MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel, and we're going to begin with the showdown over Iran's nuclear program. Today, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran has not provided sufficient information to allay concerns about its nuclear intentions. It also said that there are still significant gaps in its understanding of Iran's activities. The IAEA's comments came in the form of a report to the U.N. Security Council. The Council has called on Iran to stop enriching uranium. Tehran says it will not comply with that request. Well now, the Security Council must decide what to do next. NPR's Mike Shuster reports.
MIKE SHUSTER reporting:
The IAEA report focused on an array of nuclear activities in Iran that are areas of concern. They include Iran's ongoing uranium enrichment program, experiments with small amounts of plutonium, and a possible program that combines work on high explosives, missiles, and uranium. In all of these areas, the report concluded, Iran has not been fully forthcoming with the agency. Shortly after the report was made public, President Bush appeared before the press at the White House.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: Today's IAEA report should remind us all that the Iranian government's intransigence is not acceptable.
SHUSTER: Now, the Security Council is faced with the question of how to respond. Both the U.S. and Great Britain indicated at the U.N. that they would begin consultations soon over a resolution that would make it mandatory for Iran to end its uranium enrichment. President Bush emphasized that he prefers to find a diplomatic solution to the Iran crisis.
President BUSH: The diplomatic process is just beginning. We're forming a strong coalition of like-minded countries that believe that the Iranians should not have a nuclear weapon. And I've told the American people that diplomacy is my first choice, and it should be the first choice of every American president in order to solve a very difficult problem.
SHUSTER: For their part, Iran's leaders remain defiant today. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was quoted as saying, "No Security Council resolution could compel Iran to forego its nuclear program." He told a crowd of thousands in Chorandoray(ph) in northwest Iran that Iran doesn't give a damn about, in his words "such useless resolutions." Ahmadinejad made similar remarks yesterday.
President MAHMOUD AHMADIEJAD (Iran): (Foreign Language Spoken)
SHUSTER: Do you think that by hiding the ugly face of your cruel decisions behind the IAEA or the U.N., you can impose anything on the Iranian people, Ahmadinejad said. You do not understand the mite of the Iranian nation yet. Iran's defiant stance appears to reflect the belief among some Iranian leaders that if it can establish its uranium enrichment program as a fait accompli, the Security Council will not respond in a unified way. So far, that appears to be the case. Among the permanent members of the Council, the U.S., Great Britain, and France support a tougher stance towards Iran, possibly leading to economic sanctions, but Russia and China do not. Yesterday in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed some dissatisfaction that the issue had been referred to the Security Council at all.
President VLADIMIR PUTIN (Russia): (Foreign Language Spoken)
SHUSTER: We believe the IAEA should play the key role, Putin said. It shouldn't ignore its obligations and try to pass them along to the Security Counsel. We believe Iran should be able to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, he added.
SHUSTER: This was a not-so-veiled criticism of the United States, which had pushed hard to refer the issue to the Security Council earlier this year. At the Council today, Ambassador John Bolton said the U.S. would seek a Chapter Seven resolution next. This would declare Iran's nuclear activities a threat to peace and security, and make the Council's request that Iran stop enriching uranium into an obligation. Bolton said that could lead to further actions, if Iran does not comply.
Ambassador JOHN BOLTON (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations): This remains entirely in Iran's hands. Its behavior recently indicates it's threatening to withdraw from the nonproliferation treaty. It's obviously indicating it doesn't intend to comply with the U.N. Charter. That's the kind of behavior that shows why Iran is as isolated as it is, and why its behavior amounts to a threat to international peace and security.
SHUSTER: Talks on the Chapter Seven resolution will begin in the Security Council next week. Mike Shuster, NPR News.