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Pressure on Iran mounting

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are meeting on Friday to discuss possible action against Iran's nuclear programme.

Once again, Britain, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and France are sitting down to decide what direction to take when dealing with the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear ambitions.

On the table for discussion is a third round of sanctions.

More pressure

The Council first imposed sanctions against Tehran on December 23 last year, ordering all member states to stop supplying Iran with any materials and technology that could help its nuclear and missile program.

It also froze the assets of ten key Iranian companies and twelve individuals related to the programs.

In March 2007, the Council imposed tougher sanctions including a ban on Iranian arms exports and froze the assets of twenty-eight people and groups involved in the country’s nuclear and missile program.

Defiant troublemaker

Iran responded both times by expanding its uranium-enrichment programme, defending what it calls its “obvious right to nuclear technology”.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called the sanctions useless and claimed big world powers can’t stop the process by applying “their already beaten instruments, political propaganda, psychological war and economic sanctions”.

Iran says it is trying to develop uranium-enrichment technology for peaceful means to generate electricity for civilian use. But this technology with a bit of upgrade can also be used to create a nuclear bomb.

We are absolutely clear that we are ready, and will push for, further sanctions against Iran. We will work through the United Nations to achieve this. We are prepared also to have tougher European sanctions. We want to make it clear that we do not support the nuclear ambitions of that country.

Gordon Brown
British Prime Minister

This is what is worrying many in the West who believe Iran cannot be trusted after it was discovered in 2003 that the country had been hiding an enrichment programme for 18 years.

Sanctions vs. diplomacy?

Last week, the U.S. cut off Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and state banks from the American financial system – saying the measures were in response to the country’s alleged support for terrorism and failure to halt its nuclear and missile program.

The U.S. and its closest allies on the issue, Britain, France and Germany are pressing for harsher sanctions against Tehran but first they must get the Security Council to agree.

So far Russia and China – both trade partners to oil-rich Iran – have strongly opposed sanctions and say Tehran should be given more time to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Visiting Tehran two weeks ago, President Putin said dialogue rather than sanctions is the way out of the dispute.

And this week Russia’s Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov visited Iran where he repeated Russia’s position saying that “unilateral sanctions against Iran do not help”.

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency has been holding a third and final round of talks in Tehran this week.

The negotiations were aimed at getting answers to some remaining questions about Iran’s past and present nuclear work.