The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report that Iran has continued to pursue its nuclear program in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The agency also said its ability to adequately monitor Tehran's nuclear capabilities has been limited by a lack of access. President Bush said the United States and its allies would attempt to boost sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to comply with the UN resolutions. The United States and other nations have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
Iranian journalist Ali-Reza Nourizadeh is the director of the Center for Arab-Iranian Studies in London. He says Iranian leaders believe they can continue the program despite the objections of the international community: ?So they believe they still have time, so why should they accept the demand while they believe they can continue negotiating with the West, and there is no will to put more pressure on them and there is no will to approve harder sanctions against them and even there is no will to launch an attack against them. So this is their conviction.?
Pierre Rousselin is the foreign editor of the French newspaper, Le Figaro. He says the recent election of Nicolas Sarkozy as French president demonstrates a sharp contrast with the previous leadership of Jacques Chirac regarding policy toward Iran. The new president has indicated that the international community should impose stronger sanctions on Iran for its persistent violations of UN Security Council resolutions.
?Yes, he has actually said this himself, in general terms of course, because he wasn't talking about specifics,? says Mr. Rousselin. ?I mean, about the specific resolution, but he was talking generalities and saying France would be ready to tighten the screws on Iran. He didn't use these words, but that's what it amounted to.?
Dmitri Siderov is the Washington bureau chief of the Moscow business and political daily Kommersant. He says Russia is concerned about Iran's nuclear program, especially about the controversy's impact on world oil prices. However, he also says the sanctions themselves are meaningless: ?All the claims that these unanimous sanctions will produce any effect on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or the mullahs in Tehran, definitely those statements are not true. And we have a chance to see it right now. The more sanctions the UN will impose on Iran, the more Iran will basically try to put together more centrifuges and claim that it's very close to obtaining the nuclear bomb.
The continuing debate about Iran's nuclear program actually plays into the hands of Iranian leaders, according to Iranian journalist Ali-Reza Nourizadeh. ?So, this way they believe they can prolong the procedure, prolong the time until they are really able to build the bomb, and then they believe as in the example of North Korea, they believe that if they have the bomb, then they will guarantee the existence of the Islamic republic for another 25 years. ?The continuing controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program occurs as Tehran announced it has formally charged three Iranian-Americans with endangering national security and espionage. The United States says the allegations against the three academics are absurd.
Ali-Reza Nourizadeh of the Center for Arab-Iranian Studies in London says the detention of the three is a warning to the greater Iranian population dispersed throughout the world: ?All of these false accusations is one way by the Iranian regime and Iranian intelligence and security ministry to tell the Iranians abroad, do not come to Iran if you are a scholar, if you are a researcher, if you are an activist in the human rights field, you should not come to Iran. If you come, you are going to have problems.?
The standoff regarding Iran's nuclear policy also comes as Washington and Iran conducted high-level talks for the first time in more than two decades regarding Iraq. The Baghdad meeting between the US and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq, focused on ways to improve the security situation there. The meeting demonstrates that despite major disputes regarding Iran's nuclear program and its detention of Iranian- American scholars, negotiations between two longtime adversaries can occur. And that is no small achievement in itself.
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