International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi attends an IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Austria. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

By Francois Murphy

The United Nations atomic watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors passed a resolution ordering Iran to cooperate urgently with the agency’s investigation into uranium traces found at three undeclared sites, diplomats at Thursday’s closed-door vote said.

The resolution drafted by the United States, Britain, France and Germany says “it is essential and urgent” that Iran explain the origin of the uranium particles and more generally give the International Atomic Energy Agency all the answers it requires.

While it was not the first resolution the board has passed against Iran on the issue – another was adopted in June – its wording was stronger and hinted at a future diplomatic escalation.

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.

If Iran fails to cooperate, the board is prepared to take further action, said the statement, including under Article XII.C of the Agency’s Statute which lays out options referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council for not complying with its nuclear obligations.

Iran tends to bristle at such resolutions and it remained to be seen what action it would take. In June, Iran removed 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 this month to end the impasse. The IAEA responded by saying it hoped the meeting would take place.

Iran‘s envoy to the IAEA, Mohsen Naziri, said “The political goals of the founders of this anti-Iranian resolution will not be realized but it could impact the constructive relations between Tehran and the Agency,” according to Iran‘s state media.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Toby Chopra and Mark Heinrich)

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