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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (file photo) (epa) April 12, 2006 -- Russia today called on Iran to halt any uranium enrichment activity, including research, a day after Tehran announced that, for the first time, it had successfully enriched uranium for use as nuclear fuel.


A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Andrei Krivtsov, called it a "step in the wrong direction." He said the announcement runs counter to the resolutions of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and breaches a UN Security Council resolution.


The Security Council has demanded Iran stop all uranium enrichment activity by April 28.


Reuters quoted an unnamed senior Iranian official as rejecting Russia's call, saying its nuclear program cannot be stopped.


Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said that Iran is developing its nuclear program solely for peaceful purposes.


(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

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.


CHRONOLOGY

An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.

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