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Iran: 'Maximum' Cooperation Offered To IAEA, Not Security Council

(RFE/RL) PRAGUE, April 30, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Iran says it could allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to resume snap inspections of its nuclear facilities, but only if the UN Security Council returns Iran's case to the jurisdiction of the UN's nuclear watchdog.

Iran announced it would show "maximum" cooperation" if its case was returned to the IAEA from the UN Security Council.

"The other point is that we are prepared, based upon our commitments to cooperate with the agency and in the framework of international laws and regulations such as the Additional Protocol, to continue our cooperation on the condition that the issue remains within the framework of the agency," Mohammad Saidi, the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told reporters on April 29.

Saidi insisted Iran would be able to answer the IAEA's concerns about the access granted to UN inspectors if the UN Security Council dropped Iran's nuclear dossier. He added that if "radical measures" were taken against Tehran, Iran would also take its own "radical measures."

U.S. Says Offer Insufficient

The White House has rejected the offer. White House spokesman Blaine Rethmeier said the statement did not change the U.S. position. He said the Iranian government had to give up its nuclear ambitions. He also said the United States intended to move forward at the Security Council.

The United States and European powers are poised to seek a Security Council resolution legally obliging Iran to meet IAEA and Security Council demands.

Foreign ministers of the five permanent council members and Germany plan to gather in New York on May 9 to discuss the crisis. Representatives of these countries are also due to meet in Paris next week ahead of the talks.

Iran Defiant, Unworried By Sanctions

On April 28, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad again insisted on Iran's right to develop nuclear technology. "Achieving nuclear technology is now the will of all Iranians, whether they're young or old, men or woman or children," he said.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says it seems that Iran is ready to accept sanctions. In an interview on April 29 with Britain's ITV, Powell said possible sanctions might fail to halt the country's nuclear program.

"It seems to me the Iranians have looked at this very carefully and they have examined their situation and they have decided to go forward even in the face of potential sanctions, which suggests to me that they have pretty much decided that they can accept whatever sanctions are coming their way," he said. "I'm not trying to read the mind of the Iranians but I think that the menu of sanctions would be quite limited by sanctions; I mean those that could actually get through the Security Council."

Iran insists its nuclear program is a peaceful effort to generate electricity and therefore entirely legal.

Iran's case was referred to the UN Security Council by the IAEA's board of governors, after the agency determined that Tehran was not being forthcoming about all aspects of its program.

What Would Sanctions Mean?

What Would Sanctions Mean?

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):
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THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's coverage of the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.