Friday, May 25, 2007

The Americans and their allies are taking issue

The diplomats said Gregory L. Schulte, the chief US representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), had expressed his displeasure in a meeting on Wednesday with IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei. His British and French counterparts would follow suit as early as today, said the diplomats, who demanded anonymity because their information was confidential.

"They have an appointment with ElBaradei tomorrow," said one of the diplomats, alluding to the heads of the British and French missions to the IAEA.

IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming confirmed that Schulte and ElBaradei had met on Wednesday but she declined to elaborate beyond saying the mood was "cordial."

Diplomats first revealed such plans on Tuesday, saying the US was seeking allied support for a protest. Yesterday, they said Washington had enlisted the French and British. Canada, Australia and several other countries normally backing Washington on Iran had not made a decision as of yesterday on whether to back the move, they said.

The Americans and their allies are taking issue with recent public suggestions by ElBaradei that it is too late to force Teheran to scrap its enrichment program as demanded by the UN Security Council and his push instead for implementing inspection safeguards to prevent an expansion of the program.

"I believe that (UN) demand has been superseded by events," ElBaradei told the Spanish newspaper ABC last week. Instead, he said, "the important thing now is to concentrate on Iran not taking it to industrial scale."