U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns (file photo) (epa)
April 18, 2006 -- U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns has said that envoys from the five permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany, have failed to reach agreement on how to proceed on the issue of Iran's disputed nuclear program, AP and international media reported.
Burns said the possibility of imposing sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program was discussed.
The U.S. envoy spoke to AP following nearly three hours of talks in Moscow with diplomats from Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany. Those talks included the possibility of imposing international sanctions on Iran, a route that would require the support of the Security Council.
Burns said the meeting recognized the "need for a stiff response to Iran's flagrant violations of its international responsibilities."
The Security Council has asked Iran to stop uranium enrichment by April 28 to allay international fears it is seeking nuclear weapons. Iran has refused to do so, insisting its program is for peaceful purposes only.
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.