IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei delivering a report on Iran in February in Vienna (epa)
June 8, 2006 -- The United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected today to issue an updated report on Iran's uranium-enrichment activities.
In advance of the report's release, the United States on June 7 said that Iran must suspend uranium enrichment throughout any negotiations with major world powers on Iran's nuclear activities.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said suspension of enrichment is a "firm condition" of the offer put forward to Iran by the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
Iran has said it is studying the proposal of incentives from the major powers aimed at persuading Iran to halt activities that Western countries fear could be used for atomic weapons.
Uranium enrichment is a key step to generating fuel for nuclear power or for building nuclear weapons.
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.