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U.S. President George Bush (file photo) (epa)
April 18, 2006 -- U.S. President George W. Bush says that "all options are on the table" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but added that he will continue to focus on diplomatic options to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions.
"We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so," Bush told reporters. He called for a unified international effort in dealing with Iran but refused to rule out a military strike if diplomacy fails.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking to build an atomic bomb under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program.
Tehran, which announced it had successfully enriched uranium last week, insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are currently in Moscow for talks on Iran's nuclear program.
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.