UN nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei is expected to report Friday that Iran has failed to meet a UN deadline to stop enriching uranium, opening the door to possible sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Mohammed ElBaradei is unlikely to have good news for the world
The UN Security Council set Tehran a non-binding, 30-day deadline -- running out Friday -- to comply with demands to halt enrichment, which makes fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but which can also be the explosive core of atom bombs.
But Iran has already rejected suspending enrichment, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowing Thursday that his country "will not bow to injustice and pressure.
"Thanks to God, we are a nuclear state," he said in a speech in the west of Iran.
No good n ews
This leaves little room for ElBaradei to do anything other than state the obvious in a report the head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency is to file Friday to mark the expiry of the deadline, diplomats said.
A reactor building of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant
ElBaradei will also be reporting on whether Iran has met Security Council demands for Iran to cooperate with IAEA inspectors, who have not been able to conclude after over three years of investigation whether the Iranian program is peaceful, as Tehran claims.
On this topic also little progress is believed to have taken place.
"It is not going to be a good report," said a senior European diplomat, who requested anonymity. "That is quite clear. What is there positive to report?"
New phase of diplomacy
The report is thus almost certain to open the door to a new phase of diplomacy over an Iranian nuclear program which the United States charges hides the development of atomic weapons.
Washington wants the Security Council to adopt a "Chapter 7" resolution which would legally oblige Iran to meet the IAEA's calls.
Will the Security Council take action?
This could lead, if Iran still refuses to comply, to punishing economic sanctions and even military action against Iran, although Tehran's allies and major trading partners Russia and China oppose such a move.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the Security Council "has to act" in response to Iran's defiance.
But speaking on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Sofia, Rice played down talk of military action, saying: "We are committed to a diplomatic course."
ElBaradei's report will be released Friday afternoon "both to member states of the IAEA board of governors and to the UN Security Council" in New York, IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.