Saturday, April 29, 2006

Brinkmanship by Iran continues

The Scotsman

IRAN'S showdown with the international community escalated sharply last night after the United Nations' nuclear watchdog confirmed that the Islamic republic had not only flouted a 30-day deadline to halt enriching uranium but had even accelerated the process.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also said that Iran was still stalling inquiries into its nuclear work. He also confirmed Iran's boast this month that it had mastered uranium enrichment to the low level suitable in power plants. His damning report was sent to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

George Bush, the US president, said he wanted peaceful persuasion to prevail in the confrontation.

"It's very important for the Iranians to understand there is a common desire by a lot of nations in this world to convince them, peacefully convince them, that they ought to give up their weapons ambitions," said Mr Bush, who added that he would keep consulting the United States' allies on the issue.


Iran, refusing to blink, oozed defiance. The country's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared hours before the report's release that the Islamic Republic would shun UN calls to limit its nuclear programme.

"Those who want to prevent Iranians from obtaining their right should know that we do not give a damn about such resolutions," he told a rally in north-west Iran. Threats and "psychological warfare" against Iran would fail, he insisted. "Whether our enemies like it or not, Iran is a nuclear state. Obtaining nuclear technology is a national demand."

Iran has calculated that the Security Council is too divided to agree on punitive action, and that the US is too bogged down in Iraq to be a potent military threat, analysts believe.

Russia and China are opposed in particular to any so-called "Chapter 7 resolution" sought by the US that would designate Iran a threat to international security, a step that would open the door to sanctions and eventually even military action.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme is solely for generating electricity.

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