Iran not too worried about sanctions

International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Mohamed ElBaradei after Vienna meeting on Iran.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: There was a small tremor of political compromise from Tehran today. The Iranians are under pressure to stop enriching uranium, so they've invited a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency to come visit. It's the latest development in the international disagreement over tougher economic sanctions.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports from London.


Stephen Beard: The Iranian Government has invited officials from the UN's nuclear agency to come to Teheran for talks. The object, say the Iranians: "To get to the bottom of the issues."

Don't get your hopes up, says Cliff Kupchan of the Eurasia Group:

CLIFF KUPCHAN: There is no Iranian offer to suspend uranium enrichment. Until we see progress on that issue from Teheran, there's no light at the end of the tunnel.

He says that the Iranians are simply playing for time. It's a casual, conciliatory gesture, he says. They're not that worried about the possibility of stiffer economic sanctions from the U.N. They're right not to be worried, says David Butter of the Economist Intelligence Unit:

David BUTTER: I don't think we're going to see any all-embracing trade sanctions any time soon because of the difficulty of getting an international consensus on that.

The Chinese don't want to upset a major oil producer. The Russians are too keen to sell the Iranians nuclear technology. The exsiting sanctions against Teheran are relatively mild. There's a ban on international dealings with two dozen Iranian individuals and organizations, Roula Khalaf is Middle East editor of the Financial Times:

Roula KHALAF: They make it more difficult for businessmen in Iran, they complicate trade, they complicate finance, but not to the point where they are likely to change policy.

Some analysts say the Iranians will probably have mastered the basics of nuclear technology by early next year. And, according to some estimates, will be able to build a crude nuclear weapon by the middle of 2009.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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