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Iran Reconsidering Russian Enrichment Proposal

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (right) at the United Nations, September 2005 (ITAR-TASS) May 9, 2006 -- Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, today said a proposal to allow Tehran to enrich uranium on Russian soil remains a possible way out of the dispute over its nuclear program, but that more time is needed to work out the details.

Larijani made the remarks today after Russia and China yesterday announced that they will not support a UN Security Council draft resolution authorizing possible sanctions against Tehran.

"Some countries -- such as Russia and China -- have more realistic positions [than others]," Larijani said. "Our advice to other countries of Europe is not to follow the policy of one country that will create headaches in the region. We think the European Union has the potential to resolve this issue."

China says Iran's controversial nuclear program could be discussed next week when foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meet in Shanghai.

Meanwhile today, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said he sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush reflecting the views of the Iranian people. But the letter is said to make little mention of the controversy over Tehran's nuclear program.

(compiled from agency reports)

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.