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U.S. Envoy Says Iran-IAEA Deal Has 'Real Limitations'

IAEA deputy head Olli Heinonen and Iranian negotiator Javad Vaeedi (AFP) August 22, 2007 -- A senior U.S. envoy has criticized Iran's agreement on a timetable to answer questions about its nuclear ambitions, saying the plan has "real limitations."

The U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Gregory Schulte, told reporters in Vienna today that the agreement does not allow for wider UN inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities.

Schulte said Iran is "clearly trying to take the attention from its continued development of bomb-making capabilities."

He said the United States would move forward with other members of the UN Security Council on a resolution that would impose additional sanctions on Tehran.

Speaking in Baku today, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said any new sanctions would not deter Tehran's resolve in developing nuclear technology.

'Important Milestone'

The IAEA said on August 21 it had agreed with Iran on a plan of action and a timeline to clear up outstanding questions about its nuclear program.

Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator, Javad Vaidi, described the agreement as "very concrete progress," while IAEA Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen called it "an important milestone."

Heinonen said work would start soon on implementing the deal, with IAEA inspectors to conduct activities later this month as well as in September and October.

Details of the agreement are to be included in a report for the IAEA board by early September.

Western Fears, Iranian Denials

Iran and Western nations have been at an impasse for months over Iran's nuclear ambitions amid Western fears Iran could misuse peaceful technology to make nuclear weapons.

Tehran says its nuclear program is only for the peaceful production of nuclear power.

But the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog says it has been prevented from confirming Tehran's claims, as Iran has hampered movement by nuclear inspectors.

In its reaction to the August 21 agreement, the U.S. State Department said it was "insufficient" and did not bring Iran in line with demands by the UN Security Council to halt uranium enrichment, or face more penalties.

(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.