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Iran Faces UN Deadline On Enrichment

Ahmadinejad delivering his speech in Urumiyeh today (Fars) August 31, 2006 -- A UN Security Council deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment is set to expire today with no indication that Iran will comply.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said in a speech today that Tehran is in favor of peace and dialogue.

Ahmadinejad also said Iran will not yield to threats or pressure that could lead to the violation of its rights.

The Iranian president was speaking in the northwestern city of Urumiyeh. He also said enemies of his country are trying to create differences among the Iranian people, adding that they will fail to do so.

"But they should all know that the Iranian nation will not yield to pressure and aggression even a bit and will not accept any violations of its rights," he said.

In Washington on August 30, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Iran was not expected to confirm with UN demands.

McCormack said U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and top officials from Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany would meet early next week to discuss possible sanctions against Iran.

McCormack said sanctions would send a "strong, clear signal" to Iran.

"So the idea is to try to get them to change their behavior," McCormack said. "That's what we want to happen. And we are now at the next step where we believe that sanctions are merited and we hope that sanctions will send a clear, strong signal to the Iranian regime that this is a matter of utmost concern and serious concern to the international community and that they need to change their behavior."

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said that Muhammad el-Baradei, the head of UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), would simultaneously transmit his report on the Iranian nuclear issue to both the IAEA Board and to the Security Council president by early afternoon today.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- plus Germany have sought to determine Iran to suspend enrichment by offering a package of incentives.

But Iran has given no indication it plans to halt enrichment work.

(compiled from agency reports)

Afraid Of Sanctions?

Afraid Of Sanctions?
Comprehensive sanctions could further slow development in Iran's strategic oil and gas sectors (Fars)

WHAT DOES TEHRAN REALLY THINK? On August 22, Radio Farda correspondent Fatemeh Aman spoke with Alex Vatanka, Eurasia editor for Jane's Information Group, by telephone from Alexandria, Virginia. Vatanka discussed the possible impact that comprehensive sanctions could have for Iran.

Radio Farda: Some Iranian authorities are trying to create the impression that they aren't concerned about the possibility of international sanctions against it. They emphasize that what Iran has achieved so far has happened despite the sanctions already in place against it. Are they really not afraid of sanctions?

Vatanka: I think that what the Iranians are trying to do is to continue to play this balancing act. On the one hand, they are trying to say, "Look, we have done without you for 27 years; we can continue." On the other hand, if you look at every other major Iranian overture toward the U.S., obviously what they are hoping to do is remove those sanctions. It is the sanctions that have been the biggest obstacle to a genuine expansion in the Iranian economy. It is the sanctions and U.S. policies vis-a-vis Iran that have, for instance, kept Iran from joining the World Bank. It is sanctions and so on that have made the Iranian oil industry have such a tough time in bringing investment into the strategic oil and gas sectors. People like [former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi-]Rafsanjani back in the mid 1990s even kept certain fields untouched because the idea was that U.S. companies should have those once the sanctions were lifted.
I think sanctions are quite important to the Iranians, but at the same time what they are trying to say is, "Don't assume that we are going to fall off our chair just because you mentioned the sanctions card." It is part of a kind diplomatic chess game going on by Tehran. But remember if we look and listen to Iranian reformists, this is being openly debated inside Iran. The question that is being asked of [President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his entourage] is, "What is the ultimate objective?" Is it just Islamic independence? Is it just the ability to enrich uranium? The debate in Iran by the reformists -- and I think a lot of people would sympathize with this -- is, "What are we being sanctioned for exactly and what policies do you have to make sure that those sanctions don't hit us harder than we have already been hit?"
Remember, the big issue here is this: Iran has been sanctioned by the U.S. Iran has never faced comprehensive United Nations sanctions. The Iranian people have never suffered on a scale that the Iraqi people, for instance, suffered because of such sanctions. So it is kind of disingenuous of these senior leaders to pretend that Iran has already gone through comprehensive sanctions. Iran has not. And it will be totally different set of circumstances that will have a totally different impact on Iranian society and the economy, should the UN impose comprehensive sanctions on the country.

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


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.