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Iran raises stakes in nuclear stand-off -

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Iran raises stakes in nuclear stand-off

Craig McMurtrie reported this story on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 12:31:00

ELEANOR HALL: Iran appears to be back on a collision course with much of the rest of the world,
over its nuclear ambitions.

Overnight Tehran claimed to be beginning the production of higher grade enriched uranium. Western
governments have reacted by renewing calls for UN action.

North America correspondent Craig McMurtrie reports.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: Iran's refusal to accept a deal on a uranium fuel swap for a medical research
reactor along with a claim overnight that it's about to make higher grade enriched uranium set
alarm bells ringing in Moscow, London, Paris and Washington.

Barack Obama spoke to reporters in the White House briefing room.

BARACK OBAMA: That indicates to us that despite their posturing that their nuclear power is only
for, for civilian use that they in fact continue to pursue a course that would lead to
weaponisation, and that is not acceptable.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: The US President says one of the problems in dealing with Tehran is knowing who's
speaking for the Government. And while he was equivocal about whether China's ready to get tougher,
he said the international community is unified around Iran's misbehaviour.

BARACK OBAMA: The next step is sanctions. They have made their choice so far although the door is
still open and what we are going to be working on over the next several weeks is developing a
significant regime of sanctions that will indicate to them how isolated they are from the
international community as a whole.

(Inaudible question by reporter)

Meaning that there's going to be, we are going to be looking at a variety of ways in which
countries indicate to Iran that their approach is unacceptable and it will, the UN will be one
aspect of that broader effort.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: But Middle East watcher Michael Rubin, from the American Enterprise Institute, is
far from convinced that the major powers are ready to come together on Iran.

MICHAEL RUBIN: I would take today's development with a grain of salt. On one hand there's no doubt
that President Obama is quite serious with regard to sanctioning Iran and making sure that Iran
complies with its international obligations.

On the other hand rhetoric is easy. What we still need to do is see whether there is consensus at
the United Nations and the track record really over the last seven or eight years is that when
there is unanimity at the United Nations often times the sanctions which come out of that are weak.

CRAIG MCMURTRIE: What are the implications of that and what do you think would be a more effective
course of action at this point?

MICHAEL RUBIN: A more effective course of action? Look, that's the million dollar question and the
fact of the matter is that neither Democratic or Republican administrations in Washington have been
able to come up with a particularly effective course of action.

Ultimately I'm a big believer in what military strategists call the DIME paradigm where every
strategy has to have a diplomatic, informational, military and economic component done side by
side. Indeed it seems that Obama is starting down this path because while he's talking diplomacy
and while he's talking sanctions there also has been a great deal of arms sales to the Persian Gulf
region which is simply putting in place what needs to be done for a containment regime as well.

Ultimately I don't think we're at the tipping point right now on any break through strategy but
certainly this month tensions are going to be quite high, especially remember after February 11th
when Iran celebrates revolution day and both the Supreme Leader in Iran and Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have promised to say something quite significant on that day.

ELEANOR HALL: That's academic Michael Rubin from the Washington based American Enterprise
Institute. He was speaking to our North America correspondent Craig McMurtrie.