Iran rebuked over nuclear cover-up'

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MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World, a coproduction of the BBC World Service, PRI, and WGBH in Boston. The White House said today the world's patience with Iran is running out. Today the U.N.' nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, voted to censure Iran over its nuclear program, and this time China and Russia joined in on the rebuke. But Iran is already signaling it will resist any pressures, resolutions or sanctions. The World's Katy Clark has more.

KATY CLARK: 25 nations backed today's resolution condemning Iran for developing a uranium enrichment site in secret, and they're demanding that the project be frozen immediately. The move was endorsed by the six countries that have been overseeing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. Until now, Moscow and Beijing had been reluctant to strongly condemn Iran's actions. Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on Iran to treat today's resolution seriously. Britain's Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was also blunt.

GORDON BROWN: This is the world sending a signal to Iran that this is completely unacceptable. That we now know what their level of nuclear ambitions are. That they must desist from them. This is the strongest wording I've seen. The next stage will have to be sanctions if Iran does not, as it should, respond.

CLARK: The U.S. Envoy to the IAEA said today that round after round of fruitless talks with Iran could not continue. Today's censure is not likely to improve Iran's relations with the rest of the world. But David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security says Iran's leaders are largely responsible for that.

DAVID ALBRIGHT: They've made it clear that they want to build things in secret, for whatever reason. They've turned down pretty reasonable offers. And finally, Iran either wants nuclear weapons and wants to limit the transparency over its regime because of that. It doesn't want to have inhibitions on its ability to have nuclear weapons. Or it so mistrusts the west that no deal is possible.

CLARK: China's support for today's vote is especially noteworthy. China has been the most reluctant of the major parties involved in negotiations with Iran to take a tough stance. That's mainly because of strong economic ties between the two countries. But Albright says voting to condemn Iran's behavior today was one thing. Getting China to vote for tougher sanctions against Iran in the U.N. Security Council will be a far different matter.

ALBRIGHT: That whole battle is going to have to be fought, and probably have to go through lots of negotiations with China. To get it to accept sanctions, it will probably be weaker in the end than what United States and Europe wants.

CLARK: That is unless China becomes convinced that Iran really does want to pursue a nuclear weapons program. Iran continues to maintain that it only wants to build a civilian energy purposes. Iranians generally support their country's nuclear program. Not surprisingly, some dismissed today's news that the IAEA had condemned Tehran's enrichment activities.


CLARK: This man says that the resolution, like previous resolutions, will not be effective because Iran's nuclear energy program is truly peaceful. With the unity of the Iranian people, he says, this resolution will remain as ineffective as the previous ones. Perhaps so, but today's vote by the IAEA board could indicate a new international resolve. President Obama and his European counterparts have given Iran until the end of the year to begin talks on the nuclear stalemate, and the end of the year is fast approaching. For The World, this is Katy Clark.