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Iranian President Ahmadinejad has said his country will not be "bullied" (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
March 6, 2006 -- Members of the 35-country governing board of the United Nations' nuclear-watchdog agency are preparing to open a meeting in Vienna today to discuss Iran's refusal to halt nuclear fuel work.
Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said on March 5 that Iran would pursue full-scale uranium enrichment work if the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent the case to the UN Security Council for consideration of possible sanctions against Iran.
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said Iran could face "tangible and painful" consequences if it pushed ahead with uranium enrichment, and he pledged that the United States would use all tools at its disposal to
Iran Won't Be 'Bullied'
Today, Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said Iran would not be "bullied." He called on the IAEA's board to "accept Iran's right" to pursue a nuclear-energy program.
At the meeting, the board of governors is expected to receive a report from IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei saying that Iran has largely failed to provide reassurances that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.
(compiled from agency reports)
Economic sanctions could further undermine Iran's already shaky economy (Fars)
MOVING TOWARD SANCTIONS: If the United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions on Iran, domestic support for Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad will wane, according to ALEX VATANKA, Eurasia editor for Jane's Information Group.
Vatanka told a February 24 RFE/RL briefing that "economic sanctions will hurt the average Iranian" and, consequently, many "will blame the ruling clerics" for making life difficult and "impairing the country's long term development."
Vatanka said sanctions would be a serious challenge to the Iranian government. If harsh economic sanctions were imposed, Iran's poorest population will be hurt the hardest -- and might react "as they did in the 1970s and protest in the streets." Sanctions on travel, Vatanka said, would hurt a many Iranians because "Iran is a nation of small traders" who depend on the ability to travel to earn an income. According to Vatanka, unemployment in Iran is estimated at 30 percent, "so small trading is essential to survival." Although current U.S. sanctions "haven't worked," he said, "Iranians fear an oil embargo." He stressed that "oil revenues are a major part of the economy, so it is critical to look at this sector."
Should negotiations with the European Union and the UN fail, Vatanka believes that Iran would follow a "North Korea model," since Ahmadinejad's base of support among the "Islamist militias" has been "urging withdrawal from the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]." The Iranian government's "tactic" so far, Vatanka said, is governed by the belief that "by shouting the loudest, you'll get concessions [from the West]."
Listen to the complete panel discussion (about 60 minutes):
THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's coverage of the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.
CHRONOLOGY An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.