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Iran Nuclear Program Actions Could Spur Further Isolation
Defiance on inspections shows "they just don't get it," U.S. official says
By Stephen Kaufman


January 23, 2007

The news that Iran has barred 38 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors is "another example" of the Iranian government's attempts to "dictate the terms" to the international community, and the Iranian government risks becoming even more isolated because of it, according to a State Department official.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said January 22 that even if the IAEA is able to work around Iran's decision, "it's another indication that Iran continues in its defiant attitude toward the international community. They just don't get it."



The U.N. Security Council placed Iran under Chapter 7 sanctions in December 2006 due to its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities which fueled international concerns that Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

"Iran now finds it much more difficult to access the international financial system in the ways that it had in the past in order to facilitate the developments in its weapons of mass destruction programs," McCormack said, adding that the sanctions have put Iran "in a very exclusive club."

Iranian isolation is not the Bush administration's "first choice," he said. "We've given this regime a different pathway. That pathway certainly is available to them, but they've chosen not to pursue it." McCormack was referring to the international package of incentives and prospect for direct talks with the United States first offered in summer 2006 in return for Iran's suspension of its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said January 22 the United States has told Iran it is prepared to "do a lot of things that are really going to make life better for your people," and continues to make the offer that "if the Iranians want peaceful civil nuclear power, we are perfectly happy to be able to provide it and in the process also to provide some of the other things that the Iranian people want and deserve in terms of economic, cultural and other cooperation."

The State Department spokesman said the international community will not "allow business as usual," in the face of Iran's continued defiant behavior, and warned that ongoing defiance will result in even greater isolation.

Given the response by the international community to Iran's actions, international businesses must now weigh "very real factors" in deciding on whether to invest in Iran, including "reputational risk assessments," McCormack said.

"[T]he Iranian government is not the kind of government that can function in total isolation from the rest of the world," he said, because it relies on its oil exports, the international financial system and air transportation links.

"[N]one of this is intended to foreshadow or indicate any particular action on our part. I'm just trying to use them as examples to show that there is that interaction and desire for interaction," McCormack added.

The spokesman said the behavior of the Iranian regime is also "a big obstacle" standing in the way of contact between the United States and the Iranian people. "[W]e do not want to be isolated, necessarily, from the Iranian people," he said, and the Iranian people, in turn, appear to desire more contact with Americans.

"We certainly will do what we can to facilitate that," he said, but the Iranian people "should understand" their government is having a negative effect.

McCormack said the U.S. wrestling team that recently returned from a tournament in Iran reported "a very warm reception from the Iranian people," which he said is "really instructive" of the Iranian people's wishes.



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