The International Atomic Energy Agency's board today approved a resolution that sets up Iran for future referral to the United Nations Security Council. India has voted in favour of the resolution.
Diplomats inside the meeting said, however, that only 22 of the 35 board nations voted for the United States-backed European Union motion, reflecting the divisions over the referral.
Only twice in the past two decades has the IAEA board voted on an issue instead of adopting a resolution by consensus. Both of those were on sending North Korea to the council -- in 1993 and 2003 -- for breaking with the nonproliferation treaty.
Board nations Russia and China, which are also veto-wielding Security Council members, abstained, along with 10 other nations, all of them developing countries. Among those voting for the resolution were European countries on the board, along with the United States, Canada, Australia, Peru, Singapore and Japan.
Venezuela cast the only vote against.
Diplomats inside the closed meeting, who demanded anonymity in exchange for discussing confidential information, said the EU draft resolution adopted by the board was one submitted yesterday, after last-minute talks collapsed with Russia and China on modifications meant to make the text milder in exchange for Moscow's and Beijing's overt support.
The chief US delegate to the IAEA called the decision a wake-up call for Teheran "to come clean" or face the consequences. But the Iranian delegate said the vote had split the agency's board and he warned of retaliation.
To avoid referral, diplomats said, Iran is being told to suspend enrichment activity and give agency experts access to certain research and development locations and documentation.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said the decision showed that 'the international community is not satisfied with the level of confidence building measures Iran has so far taken.'
India has said its vote in favour of the EU resolution on Iran's nuclear programme in the IAEA addressed some of its major concerns and did not reflect any change in its stand on Iran.
India's stand that some more time time should be given for satisfactory resolution of the issue had been taken care of, an external affairs ministry spokesman said.
The draft resolution had conceded this by deferring any decision till further consideration of the matter at the Board's next meeting in November this year, he said.
India was opposed to the matter being referred to the UN Security Council and the draft resolution had agreed to keep this within the purview of the IAEA at this stage, the spokesman said.
There is no question of India having ranged itself on one side or the other. On the contrary, India has played a supportive role in safeguarding Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear energy necessary for its economic development, he said.