Nuclear watchdog scolds Iran, but fails to impose sanctions

The board of governors of the United Nations’ nuclear agency has agreed on a draft resolution that harshly criticizes Iran, but refrains from calling for new sanctions.

Western diplomats familiar with the resolution told the Washington Post on Thursday that the draft, formulated over two days at the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna, is likely to gain formal approval by the group’s 35-nation board of governors on Friday.

The possibility of new sanctions was omitted as a concession to Russia and China, which have consistently opposed strong U.N. action.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA, also informed the board of governors that he hoped to send a mission to Iran to investigate the suspicions that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, The New York Times reported. Earlier this month, the IAEA reported that claims of a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program were “credible.”

Also Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who plans to meet Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the sidelines of a security forum in Canada on Friday, cautioned Israel against ordering military strikes against Iran’s weapons program.

“I think the United States feels strongly that the way to deal with that is to work with our allies, to work with the international community to develop the sanctions and the diplomatic efforts that would further isolate Iran in the international community,” Panetta said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “That is the most effective way to try to confront them at this point.”