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Iran's nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani after a meeting with the EU's Javier Solana in Brussels on July 11 (epa)
August 21, 2006 -- The European Union's high representative for foreign and security policy, Javier Solana, today spoke with Iran Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani over the phone.
In a statement, Solana described his conversation with Larijani, who is also Iran's top nuclear negotiator, as "constructive."
He said both sides agreed "under the right circumstances," to hold further contacts to reestablish "confidence in the purely civilian nature of the Iranian nuclear program."
Despite Tehran's denial, the world community largely suspects Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany have urged Iran to renounce its uranium-enrichment program in return for various incentives. Iran is due to give its response by August 22, but has already said it will not give up enrichment.
(AFP, dpa, IRNA)
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.