Pressuring Teheran

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Daily Telegraph – Leaders: The essence of Mohamed ElBaradei’s report on Iran to the United Nations yesterday was a foregone conclusion. On March 29, the Security Council asked the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to submit evidence within 30 days as to whether Teheran was complying with demands to stop uranium enrichment and to confirm that there were no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in the country. The Daily Telegraph

Leaders

The essence of Mohamed ElBaradei’s report on Iran to the United Nations yesterday was a foregone conclusion. On March 29, the Security Council asked the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to submit evidence within 30 days as to whether Teheran was complying with demands to stop uranium enrichment and to confirm that there were no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in the country.

The intervening period has merely seen an increase in Iranian truculence. Earlier this month, the government announced that it had succeeded in enriching uranium and was planning production on an industrial scale.

Yesterday, the president said Iranians didn’t “give a damn” about UN resolutions on its nuclear ambitions, echoing a threat by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, that the country would strike at American interests across the world if it were attacked.

Thus, in his report to the council that Iran had accelerated its nuclear enrichment programme, Mr ElBaradei was confirming a defiance that had already been trumpeted by Iranian officials.

As in the months preceding the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the council’s responsibility for maintaining international peace and security is being challenged by a country that has repeatedly defied its will. Russia has hardened its opposition to economic sanctions against Iran and may well veto such a move. If so, America, the European Union and Japan will have to go ahead on their own.

Despite the high oil price, Iran’s economy is its Achilles’ heel. According to World Bank figures, per capita income has more than halved since the 1979 revolution. Unemployment, especially among the young, and inflation are high, and the government remains wedded to an outdated model of import substitution.

The present confrontation has already caused a withdrawal of capital and inhibited foreign investment. It is through sanctions that Washington and its allies must first put pressure on a regime whose nationalistic stridency on the nuclear issue is a cloak for its corrupt and incompetent rule.

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