U.N. Nuclear Agency Freezes Nearly 2 Dozen Technical Assistance Programs to Iran

Delegates to a 35-nation meeting of theInternational Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday approved the suspension of nearly two dozen nuclear technical aid programs to Iran as part of U.N. sanctions imposed because its nuclear defiance.

The decision to deprive Iran of 23 projects was taken by consensus and was expected. Even nations on the IAEA board normally supportive of Iran backed it because it was recommended by agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, on authority of the U.N. Security Council.

"I have not heard anyone express dissatisfaction" with ElBaradei's recommendations, said Ramzy Ezzeidin Ramzy, Egypt's chief IAEA representative, before the decision, reflecting the meeting's widespread unanimity on the issue.

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The suspensions fell under the provision of Security Council sanctions agreed on Dec. 23 to punish Iran for defying a council demand that it freeze its uranium enrichment activities. The five permanent council members now are consulting on additional sanctions after Tehran ignored a new ultimatum to stop enrichment last month.

Council diplomats in New York said these could include a travel ban, an expanded list of people and companies subject to an asset freeze, an arms embargo and trade restrictions, but they cautioned that differences remained.

While Iran says it has the legal right to develop an enrichment program to generate nuclear power, the Security Council has called on it to end such activities because of fears it could misuse the process to produce the fissile material for warheads.