The foreign ministers of the permanent members of the UN along with Germany and the EU in Berlin today (epa)
BERLIN, March 30, 2006 -- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the permanent members of the UN Security Council agree that Iran must heed a UN demand to halt uranium enrichment.
Steinmeier was speaking in Berlin after a meeting of foreign ministers from the "Big Five" -- Britain, France, China, Russia, and the United States -- plus Germany.
He said the message from today's meeting is that the international community is united in its demand for greater clarity in Iran's nuclear program.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Iran had "miscalculated" the international community's response to its decision to resume uranium enrichment. He said Iran had wrongly believed the world would be divided.
The comments follow the issuing of a Security Council statement on March 29 giving Iran 30 days to suspend its fuel-enrichment activities.
In Vienna, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA said Iran will not suspend uranium-enrichment work. Aliasghar Soltaniyeh said the decision to resume enrichment is "irreversible."
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.