Diplomats earlier said a watered-down text was likely to get Russia's support, but the motion contained a direct reference to the Security Council and held out the likelihood of referral in the coming months.
Iran increased the pressure against referral to the Security Council, diplomats told The Associated Press, threatening to restart uranium enrichment — a possible pathway to nuclear arms.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the closed proceedings, also said Iran warned it could stop granting U.N. inspectors extra access under an agreement it had signed but not yet ratified.
The draft resolution urges the 35-nation board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency to consider reporting Iran to the Security Council, according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press. It cites noncompliance with provisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and suspicions that Tehran's nuclear activities could threaten international peace and security.
Iran insists its nuclear activities have not violated the treaty and that its atomic program is for the generation of electricity, not making weapons as the United States alleges.
Any resolution still has to be accepted by the board before it has validity. It was unclear when the text would be put to a vote, but nations supporting it were in the majority, according to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the closed proceedings.
The Security Council could impose sanctions if it determines that Iran violated the treaty, but members Russia and China are certain to veto such action, and the draft did not mention sanctions.
Still, it was unequivocal in saying that unless Iran ends uranium conversion and clears up questions remaining about its past nuclear activities, the grounds exist for Security Council referral.
Noncompliance with a country's obligations under the treaty is automatic grounds for a report to the Security Council under IAEA statutes, and the draft said "Iran's many failures and breaches of its obligations ... constitute noncompliance."
Iran's spotty record on cooperating with an IAEA inquiry that began in 2002 has resulted in an "absence of confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes," the document said. That finding puts Iran "within the competence of the Security Council, as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security," according to the text.
For years, the Europeans have avoided U.S. demands for support in Washington's push to haul Iran before the Security Council. But they reluctantly swung behind the United States last month after Tehran effectively walked away from talks with Britain, France and Germany that were meant to reduce suspicions about its nuclear aims and began uranium conversion — a prelude to enrichment, which can make the fissile core for nuclear warheads or generate fuel for energy.