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Archive photo of an IAEA Governing Board meeting in March 2006 (epa)
June 12, 2006 --
Iran has issued a defiant statement about its right to conduct nuclear research just hours before t
he governing body of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) begins a meeting in Vienna that is expected to include discussion of that country's disputed nuclear program.
Tehran's statement today says Iran will not negotiate over its right to enrich uranium.
Diplomats say that while the 35 member states plan to discuss Iran's nuclear program, no resolutions are expected to be passed.
Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has urged the IAEA to exercise restraint at the meeting.
Last week, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States offered Iran a batch of economic and security incentives to shelve a uranium-enrichment program that could yield fuel for nuclear power plants or, eventually, atomic bombs. If officials in Tehran refuse, some countries are likely to seek UN sanctions against Iran.
EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said today that he expected an Iranian response this week to the offer.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal has meanwhile arrived in the Iranian capital Tehran for a one-day visit during which he will have talks with senior Iranian officials. Iran's State news agency, IRNA, reports that al-Faisal is carrying a message for Iran's leaders.
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.