The UN atomic watchdog's 35-nation Board of Governors passed a resolution on Thursday ordering Iran to cooperate urgently with the Agency's investigation into uranium traces found at three undeclared sites, diplomats at the closed-door vote said, Reuters reports.
The resolution drafted by the United States, Britain, France and Germany says the Board "decides it is essential and urgent" that Iran explains the origin of the uranium particles and, more generally, give the International Atomic Energy Agency all the answers it requires.
While it is not the first resolution the Board has passed against Iran on the issue – another was adopted in June – its wording is stronger and hints at a diplomatic escalation down the line – possibly referring Iran to the UN Security Council for not complying with its nuclear obligations.
"Iran must now provide the necessary cooperation, no more empty promises," the United States said in its statement to the Board shortly before the resolution was adopted with 26 votes in favour, five abstentions and two countries absent, according to diplomats in the meeting. Only Russia and China voted against.
"Iran must know that if it fails to provide the cooperation necessary to resolve these matters, the Board will have to be prepared to take further action, including under Article XII.C of the Agency's Statute," it added, referring to a clause that lays out options including referral to the Security Council.
More immediately, Iran tends to bristle at such resolutions and it remained to be seen what action it would take. In June, Iran removed additional IAEA monitoring equipment including surveillance cameras installed under its 2015 deal with world powers to curb its disputed uranium enrichment programme.
On Thursday it indicated it would call off a meeting with the IAEA due to be held later this month meant to end the impasse over explaining the origin of the uranium traces. The IAEA responded by saying it hoped the meeting would take place.