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Iran Defiant Despite UN Referral

Prepared by: CFR.org Staff
February 6, 2006

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The permanent members of the UN Security Council mustered a relatively united front on Iran's nuclear ambitions at a weekend meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Yet the decision to send the issue to the Security Council (SFChron) may not bring quick results. Indeed, Iran's first reaction showed how difficult progress will be: Tehran announced it would no longer abide by the deal it signed with European negotiators in 2003 (Reuters), the so-called Additional Protocol.

The IAEA consensus resolution passed Saturday, with only Venezuela, Cuba and Syria against, also came with a new complication: a call for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East that, in effect, links Israel's unacknowledged but widely known nuclear arsenal (MSNBC) to the issue. In defiant response, Tehran announced Monday it would resume uranium enrichment "in due course" (Deutche Welle).

Nuclear expert David Albright believes Iran still hasn't reached a firm decision yet on whether to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Albright tells cfr.org's Bernard Gwertzman that he believes the United States must be prepared to offer security guarantees to Iran to help defuse the crisis. Jon Wolfsthal, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says despite recent signs of solidarity by the world’s nuclear powers, Iran still appears to be on track to successfully develop technology capable of producing nuclear weapons.

CFR expert Ray Takeyh tells cfr.org's Bernard Gwertzman the Security Council is unlikely to "generate a significant degree of pressure" on Tehran. The Security Council has not traditionally been the best place to coerce behavior on nuclear weapons, CFR’s UN expert Lee Feinstein said at a recent CFR meeting on Iran. He also believes the U.S.-European agreement on the issue could be transitory because of philosophical differences between the two sides on the use of sanctions.

Iranian officials were eager to keep the issue out of the Security Council. Iranian diplomat Javad Vaidi told reporters that adopting the resolution would "kill the Russian proposal" to enrich Iranian uranium in Russia. Iran has backed away from that threat, but officials were not optimistic about what comes next. Israel, known to be particularly concerned at the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, said Tehran's defiance would come "at a very heavy price" (Haaretz).

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