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Rhetoric Hardens As IAEA Gathers For El-Baradei Report

Iranian women chant anti-U.S. slogans in front of the Isfahan uranium-enrichment facility (file photo) (epa) March 8, 2006 -- Officials in the United States and Iran appear to have stiffened their positions as UN nuclear agency head Muhammad el-Baradei prepares to deliver his report on Iran's nuclear program at a meeting today in Vienna of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In his report, el-Baradei will say Iran has failed to abide by IAEA calls to suspend uranium enrichment and to cooperate fully with the agency's monitors, according to AFP.

The IAEA referred Iran to the UN Security Council on February 4 but put off taking any action until el-Baradei delivers his report. Iran has since suspended all voluntary cooperation with the agency.

Reports out of Vienna on March 7 hinted at a Russian compromise to allow Iran to do small-scale nuclear work if it refrains from large-scale uranium refinement. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov subsequently denied those reports.

U.S. Reaffirms Tough Line

Lavrov was speaking after talks in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said the United States would not tolerate any deal that allowed Iran to enrich uranium on any scale.

Washington has long accused Tehran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge that Iranian officials have consistently rejected.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, meanwhile, said Iran would not be allowed to have nuclear weapons and would face "meaningful consequences" if it continued to defy the international community.

Iranian President Defiant

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, reiterated his pledge to stay the country's nuclear course today, saying "Iran will not give in to any political pressure, [will] make no compromise, and will go to the end of the line," according to dpa. Speaking in a televised speech from western Iran, Ahmadinejad said, "Our enemies have so far remained strong because we were weak, but the Iranian nation should know that if we stand firm and decisive, the [West] will surrender to our demands."

Ahmadinejad also accused "enemies of Iran" of working through diplomatic channels to sow discord in the region and bring concerted pressure to bear on Tehran, dpa reported. "But we have already taken our decision and [the West] must eventually give in to the unanimous decision by the Iranian nation," he vowed.

Dpa estimated that thousands of demonstrators were rallying in support of Ahmadinejad's message.

(compiled from agency reports)

Iran's Nuclear Program

Iran's Nuclear Program

THE COMPLETE PICTURE: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.