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President Ahmadinejad (file photo) (epa)
March 9, 2006 -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said today his country would resist any political pressure about its nuclear program and would not be "bullied."
Ahmadinejad was speaking after the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), agreed to forward its report on Iran to the UN Security Council.
The council is due to meet next week to discuss IAEA resolutions on Iran. Representatives of permanent council members, the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain, are due to meet on March 10, before the issue comes before the entire Security Council.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 9 that the IAEA should have been given more time to deal with the issue of Iran's nuclear program.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang today called on the international community not to escalate tensions concerning the Iranian nuclear program.
Tehran says its program is for peaceful purposes.
(AFP, ITAR-TASS, dpa)
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.