Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad during a visit to Natanz nuclear facility (file photo) (Fars)
July 13, 2006 -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today reiterated that Iran will respond by mid-August to an international package of incentives aimed at encouraging Iran to suspend its nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad's comments are a response to a decision on July 12 by six world powers to refer the matter to the UN Security Council.
Ahmadinejad also said Iran has been pursuing a "path of peace" up till now, but may change its policies if it decides the package is not in its best interest.
Earlier, Iran's state news agency, IRNA, said the decision to refer the country to the UN Security Council over its nuclear program will send the crisis into the "depths of an abyss."
It also accused the six world powers that made the decision on July 12 of being under the "poisonous" influence of the United States.
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.