Nuclear Crisis Pressure Grows on Iran's Hard-liners
Outspoken Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- who's fast on track to becoming a complete pariah in the international community for his calls for the destruction of Israel -- is coming under increasing pressure in Tehran over his uncompromising approach to the country's controversial nuclear ambitions. In its Tuesday edition, the New York Times, quotes an unnamed senior Iranian official saying that Iran's hard-line stance on the issue is making it more difficult for the country to pursue a nuclear program .
"For 28 years after the revolution, America wanted to get Iran to the Security Council and America failed," the official told the paper. "In less than six months, Ahmadinejad did that."
Foreign pressure on the Tehran government is also mounting. During an informal meeting of the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council in New York on Tuesday, France and Britain presented excerpts from a statement that called for Iran to put a stop to its nuclear program within 14 days. The draft, which is also supported by Washington, demands that construction of new nuclear research facilities in Iran also be halted. The three Western, veto-wielding Security Council members said they planned to present the statement to the UN's highest body for a vote. The statement would express "serious concern" about Iran's nuclear program and ask that Tehran adhere to the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency, but it would stop short of ordering any sanctions.
Reuters reports that China and Russia, also veto-holding members, are said to be resisting the proposal. Beijing and Moscow instead want a recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran to be sent back from the UN in order facilitate further diplomatic efforts. Last week, the IAEA determined it could not verify whether Iran's nuclear program was for civilian purposes, as Tehran has claimed, and the agency forwarded a critical report to the Security Council for consideration. Moscow is seeking further diplomatic breathing room to push for a proposal it has tabled to produce enriched uranium for Iran if Tehran in return agreed to suspend its own enrichment programs. China has also called on Tehran to cooperate with the UN and to continue negotiations with the Russians.
So far, however, Russia's attempts to reach a diplomatic solution have been fruitless. After a number of mixed signals from Tehran, on Tuesday Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has strong influence on all government decisions, issued a hard-line statement, saying the country's nuclear program was "irreversible."