United States pushes for sanctions while Iran invites IAEA inspectors

By Brien Southward

Iran has renewed its invitation to the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), the UN watchdog group that monitors use of nuclear power worldwide, to inspect its continued nuclear energy program. Meanwhile, the United States continues to push for greater sanctions against Iran to slow its nuclear program.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey has said that he worries that the United States military will be sucked into another Middle East conflict if Iran’s purported attempts to develop nuclear weapons continue. Speaking to CNN, he said that “any miscalculation could mean that we are drawn into conflict, and that would be a tragedy for the region and the world. We are examining a range of options.”

On Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice urged the United Nations Security Council to increase sanctions against Iran to slow its nuclear program and “show Iran there is a price to pay for its deception.” Rice claimed that sanctions would slow Iran’s nuclear program but also buy time to pursue diplomatic solutions to the nuclear crisis, while China and Russia have both called for increased diplomatic efforts.

Rice also pointed to a report issued last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency that concluded that certain alleged “clandestine work” by Iran could only be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. “No one, after reading the November report, can reasonably believe Iran's contention that its continuing uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes only,” continued Ambassador Rice.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich has told Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, that Russia has “declared time and again that Russia is opposed to any anti-Iran action by the international community” and that anti-Iran sanctions will ultimately fail to affect Iran’s economy. Russia warned the West last week that sanctions against Iran are “unacceptable” and would impair attempts to renew talks with Iran over its nuclear program.

In response to Western attempts to impose further economic sanctions, Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that “such illogical, intimidating moves are propaganda and psychological war which however will not change our nation's will but just make us more united.”

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