Sergei Lavrov (file photo) (official site)
April 20, 2006 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow would not support action against Iran before an April 28 UN deadline for it to halt uranium enrichment.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on April 19 that the United States will use political, economic, and other measures to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
Meanwhile, in Moscow the so-called EU-3 -- Germany, France, and Great Britain -- have held talks with Javad Vaidi, deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, along with Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi. Little progress was reported.
The Security Council has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to report by April 28 on whether Iran is complying with UN demands to halt uranium enrichment.
Iran has refused such calls, saying its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
(compiled from agency reports)
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.