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'Only A Matter Of Time' Before UN Acts On Iran, Says Rice

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (right) talks with EU Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana (left) during a meeting at the U.S. State Department in Washington today (epa) May 10, 2006 -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today said that it is "only a matter of time" before the United Nations Security Council takes some kind of action concerning the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

Rice made her remarks on a U.S. morning show.

"There are many diplomatic steps yet to be taken. First of all, we will continue to pursue the Security Council resolution, and we're going to have action in the UN," she said. "It's only a matter of time, and we thought two weeks was not too long to wait."

Rice described the Iranian government as "the central banker of terrorism," and said it cannot be allowed to get a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, in Jakarta, visiting Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad today again defended his country's nuclear program, saying it is only intended for peaceful purposes.

In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush said a letter sent to him by Ahmadinejad failed to address international concerns about Iran's nuclear activities.

In Bush's words, the letter did not answer the question, "When will you get rid of your nuclear program?"

The letter's existence emerged on May 8 in what is believed to be the first presidential contact between the two
countries in 27 years.

(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):
Real Audio Windows Media

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


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.