Agence France Presse – Britain, France and Germany formally asked the UN atomic watchdog in a letter Wednesday to hold an emergency meeting February 2 on Iran’s nuclear program, diplomats told AFP.
The letter does not however call for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, only for the meeting of the board of governnors of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA), a European diplomat said.
"It’s a technical thing. It calls for a meeting, not Security Council referral," the diplomat said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The ambassadors from the three European countries to the Vienna-based IAEA all signed the letter before it was submitted, a second diplomat said, in confirming the sending of the letter.
IAEA officials were not immediately available for comment, but a source close to the IAEA said that the holding of a special meeting was automatic once a member of the agency’s 35-nation board requests one.
Iran is almost certain to be referred to the UN Security Council in February, but sharp international divisions about how to crack down on the Iranian nuclear program remain, diplomats said.
Iran said earlier this month it was terminating a voluntary moratorium on sensitive nuclear research, a move that caused alarm around the world.
Referral "is not going to change the situation really basically," a diplomat said, referring to Russian and Chinese opposition to the US and European desire to threaten sanctions or other harsh measures in order to get Iran to guarantee that it will not make nuclear weapons.
The West has a majority of some 21 votes on the board, and Iranian allies Russia and China are expected to abstain when the Iranian issue comes up.
But in New York, Russia and China each have a veto on the Security Council.