How Might the Rest of the World Deal with Iran?
JACKI LYDEN, host:
This week, the US, Britain, France and Germany said talks with Iran over the nuclear issue are at a dead end and they want to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions. Meeting at the White House yesterday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Bush had this to say.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm not going to prejudge what the United Nations Security Council should do, but I recognize that it's logical that a country which has rejected diplomatic treaties be sent to the United Nations Security Council.
LYDEN: Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London where he directs their non-proliferation program.
Welcome to the program, Mr. Fitzpatrick.
Mr. MARK FITZPATRICK (Senior Feller, International Institute for Strategic Studies): Thank you.
LYDEN: Now Iran has willfully violated its agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency. What do you make of that?
Mr. FITZPATRICK: They seem determined to acquire the enrichment capability that they say is needed for nuclear technology status but would also give it the capability to develop nuclear weapons. And the signs point to the latter rationale as the more important rationale for them.
LYDEN: What are the signs that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and not just peaceful energy?
Mr. FITZPATRICK: It's hard to say that this is definitely development of atomic weapon. It will take maybe five years before they could actually acquire enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, but there have been many signs pointing to a nuclear weapon intention including the kind of experiments that only seem logical for a nuclear weapon and the kind of intelligence information that the United States and other nations provided to the IAEA about a missile looking to be--carrying a package that looks only to be a nuclear weapon.
LYDEN: Even with satellite photos, one still has to guess at human intentions, but what's your best guess of what Iran is doing and will do over the next few weeks and months?
Mr. FITZPATRICK: I think over the next few weeks and months it will get as far as it can with its enrichment program, and then it may be seeking negotiations, hoping that it will not face really severe penalties in the Security Council and that it will be able to enter negotiations from a different position, a position where it already has an enrichment capability under way so that if it has to freeze its program again, it will begin from a new starting point.
LYDEN: So it will have raised the bar for itself.
Mr. FITZPATRICK: Exactly.
LYDEN: We just heard President Bush say that he's not going to prejudge what the United Nations Security Council should do. Do you think it'll be difficult to get sanctions passed at the Security Council?
Mr. FITZPATRICK: I think it will definitely be difficult. Of course, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Now the Security Council has an opportunity to consider various sanctions. I think it could begin with some politically targeted sanctions, and then depending on how Iran reacts, perhaps the will of all the members could be stiffened and they might have to consider stronger sanctions.
LYDEN: Can the United States take a leadership position here?
Mr. FITZPATRICK: I think it will have to to show Iran that the international community is united on this.
LYDEN: President Ahmadinejad said today that countries need Iran 10 times more than Iran needs the outside world.
Mr. FITZPATRICK: I think that statement overstates his own case. Iran is more dependent on the rest of the world than the world is dependent on Iran. But particular countries are more dependent. Russia has great economic and commercial interests with Iran, so does China, so does India, and those will be three trade partners who would have to be brought into any economic sanctions in order for them to be effective.
LYDEN: Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
Thanks very much for joining us.
Mr. FITZPATRICK: You're welcome, Jacki.