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Washington Rejects Moscow's Call For Iran Talks --> U.S. President Bush (left) today called Iran's nuclear ambitions a serious concern for U.S. security (file photo) (CTK) March 10, 2006 -- Washington today rejected Moscow's appeal for crisis talks ahead of possible UN action to resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns made the announcement in Washington. He said the issue should be taken up at the Security Council early next week.

The statement came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today called for talks with China, the European Union and the United States to reach consensus on resolving the issue before taking action at the UN Security Council.

The Associated Press reported that the five permanent members of the Security Council gathered today in New York at the U.S. mission to the United Nations for their second meeting on the Iran nuclear crisis.

Meanwhile, U.S. President George W. Bush today said that Iran's nuclear program is a serious concern for U.S. national security.

"The Iranian president has stated his desire to destroy our ally, Israel. So, when you start listening to what he has said [and consider] their desire to develop a nuclear weapon, then you begin to see an issue of grave national security concern."

The five permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- are to have a second round of discussions on the Iranian nuclear crisis today. They are to meet again next week.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

What Would Sanctions Mean?

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):
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THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's coverage of the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.