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Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad at a Tehran press conference in April (epa)
June 2, 2006 -- World powers have agreed a package of incentives and penalties to try and persuade Iran to halt sensitive nuclear activities.
The announcement came after talks in Vienna between the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett described the package as a "far-reaching" set of proposals.
"We are prepared to resume negotiations, should Iran resume the suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities as required by the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], and we would also suspend action in the [UN] Security Council," Beckett said, without revealing details of the proposal. "We've also agreed that if Iran decides not to engage in negotiation, further steps would have to be taken in the Security Council."
The meeting came a day after the United States, in a major policy shift, offered to join European nations in talks with Iran if Tehran suspended uranium enrichment.
Western powers, despite Iran's denials, suspect Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear program.
(compiled from agency reports)
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.