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Iran remains defiant over nuclear program -

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Iran remains defiant over nuclear program

Broadcast: 31/08/2006

Reporter: Kim Landers

Iran has ignored a UN Security Council deadline for it to suspend its uranium enrichment program.


TONY JONES: Tensions between Iran and the international community are showing no signs of easing.
Later tonight, the UN Security Council's deadline demanding that Iran freezes its nuclear programme
is due to expire. And just a few hours ago, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared
publicly in Tehran, vowing he will not bow to any such foreign pressure. Although the United States
is keen to begin punitive measures early next week - if the deadline is ignored - European Union
officials are instead pushing for exploratory talks with Tehran as a first step. The continuing
impasse and what the future holds for their former home has been particularly troubling for Iranian
Americans. Our North America correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: It's Sunday afternoon near Washington and Iranian-American friends are playing soccer.
Many came to the United States when they were children, yet they're closely following the debate
about Iran's nuclear ambitions, and know a showdown is looming between the country of their birth
and the place they now call home.

BABEK TALEBI, SOCCER PLAYER: Right now, I think everybody's just hoping and praying that they don't
bomb Iran. Because that's really - you know, we all have family back there.

KIM LANDERS: Iran is taunting world powers with its nuclear program. It brags about enriching
uranium, but says it's only to generate nuclear power. The West suspects Iran wants a nuclear bomb.
In return, Iran says it's ready for serious talks, but it's neglected to agree to suspend uranium
enrichment. Iranian-Americans feel their loyalties being tested.

BABEK TALEBI: All the neighbours around us, Pakistan, Russia, Israel, all these countries have
nuclear weapons and we're stuck in the middle of all these wars going on. But on the other hand, we
kind of know that if this crew, this regime that's in power now gets the nuclear weapons, then it's
going to be really hard to get rid of 'em down the road.

KIM LANDERS: The US is making a big show of public diplomacy. It's spending more than $100 million
a year on programs to reach the Iranian people. And it's using this man, the 'Larry King' of Iran,
to do it. Ahmad Baharloo is the host of a Persian language TV talk show now being beamed from the
Voice of America studios in Washington into Iran, seven nights a week.

AHMAD BAHARLOO: We have earned the trust of them, to see that we are not trying to push anything
down their throat. We are a descriptive...program, not prescriptive.

KIM LANDERS: He and his guests talk about democracy, women's rights and freedom of speech.

AHMAD BAHARLOO: There is no way that any human beings understand the value of freedom and then
decide not to take it.

KIM LANDERS: Branded part of the 'Axis of Evil', accused of sending roadside bombs to Iraq and
rockets to Hezbollah, Iran is treated with deep suspicion by the US - such a threat that some in
the Pentagon have reportedly toyed with the idea of a pre-emptive military strike on its nuclear

KARIM SADJADPOUR: I would argue that...there's not a military solution toward Iran. There's not
really a containment strategy anymore towards Iran. And as Winston Churchill once said about
democracy, engaging Iran is the worst option available, save for all others.

KIM LANDERS: Karim Sadjadpour is a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. He says the
US needs to change its tactics and engage in direct talks, but points out that America's hard-line
approach has already created a dilemma.

KARIM SADJADPOUR: And the message being received right now in Tehran is that a belligerent foreign
policy reaps rewards. That when you try to play nice, you get the 'Axis of Evil', but when you
project this belligerent, almost irrational approach, this is what the West responds to.

KIM LANDERS: Finding any common ground between Washington and Tehran is proving illusive. Kim
Landers, Lateline.