http://gdb.rferl.org/F1F3237F-0BC5-47DD-AA46-7B1BDF7CD186_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/F1F3237F-0BC5-47DD-AA46-7B1BDF7CD186_mw800_mh600.jpg
Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom, with Gholamreza Aqazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
April 21, 2006 -- Russia says it will consider agreeing to sanctions against Iran only if there is solid proof that Tehran's nuclear program is not strictly peaceful.
The statement, made by Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin, comes as UN nuclear inspectors are set to visit nuclear facilities where Iran claims to have enriched uranium.
Russian officials have said they will wait for a report on this visit before deciding on further steps.
The head of Russia's atomic energy agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, on April 20 defended the help that Russia is providing Iran to develop nuclear power. He denied suggestions that Russia's assistance in the development of Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant poses any danger of proliferation.
Also, a deputy secretary of Russia's National Security Council, Nikolai Spassky, on April 21 reiterated a proposal to have Iranian uranium enriched on Russian soil.
(AP, Reuters, Interfax)
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.