Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Iran Balks at Nuclear Deal

Council on Foreign Relations

August 22, 2006
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

Iran has left the door open to further negotiations (NYT) by proposing a "new formula" to resolve the crisis over its nuclear program but indicated it would not suspend its enrichment activities as the UN Security Council demanded in Resolution 1696. Details of its proposed formula were not immediately known. Tehran did not appear to reject outright the package of economic incentives, proposed by the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany. But its top negotiator, Ali Larijani, reiterated Iran's refusal to suspend enrichment activities as a precondition to talks. He added that any UN attempt to punish Iran would result in the ejection of international inspectors from the country. Earlier this week, the chief International Atomic Energy Agency inspector was denied access to Iran's underground nuclear facility at Natanz (AP), an apparent violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), UN officials say. Iran has until August 31 to stop its nuclear program or face punitive sanctions.

Experts say Iran may be using the negotiations as a stalling tactic until the August 31 deadline to observe what positions Russia and China take. Both countries have given mixed signals on whether they would support the application of Chapter Seven powers, which enable the Security Council to impose sanctions or employ military force, should Tehran choose not to suspend its nuclear programs by the deadline. The head of Iran's atomic energy program said the country's nuclear capabilities, at least from a scientific standpoint, had advanced to the point where "suspension of uranium enrichment is not possible anymore" (CSMonitor).

Bill Samii of RFE/RL examines potential responses by Iran, should the United Nations impose sanctions. One possibility is Iran, which accounts for 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, could restrict oil experts and further cripple energy markets.

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