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UN Warns A Defiant Iran --> Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki speaks at a press conference following the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva today (epa) March 30, 2006 -- The international community today told Iran it must heed a United Nations statement that tells it to halt its nuclear program or face isolation, but Iran's foreign minister rejected the warning.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia -- and Germany met today in Berlin before issuing their message to Iran.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Iran could eventually face UN sanctions if it failed to follow the Security Council statement, which was issued yesterday.

"We've issued a unanimous [UN Security Council] presidential statement that has some very clear messages to Iran," he said. I hope Iran heeds those messages because if they fail to do so, then as the statement makes clear, the matter will then be considered by the Security Council further."

The UN nuclear watchdog's chief, Muhammad el-Baradei, today also called on Iran to be more forthcoming about its nuclear program, but said sanctions now would be what he called a bad idea.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki has rejected the Security Council statement. Speaking at a conference on disarmament in Geneva, he said Iran has the indisputable right to develop nuclear power for civilian use.

(compiled from agency reports)

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.