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U.S. Diplomat Says Agreement Near On Iran Sanctions --> Nicholas Burns in Moscow on April 19 (epa) April 19, 2006 -- A top U.S. diplomat says most permanent members of the UN Security Council and the Group of Eight industrial powers support possible sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns made the comment in Moscow today after two days of meetings of world powers in the Russian capital concerning Iran.

Russia and China, both of which are permanent Security Council members, have spoken out against imposing sanctions at this time.

Meanwhile, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani had flown to Russia for talks with officials from Britain, France, and Germany. That trio has previously negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program.

Iran has resisted calls for it to abandon its uranium enrichment program that Washington says is a step toward building a nuclear bomb. Tehran says its program is 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 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.