WASHINGTON - Western powers' strong new sanctions on Iran have so far failed to push Tehran's leaders toward compromise on their disputed nuclear program, a senior European diplomat said yesterday.
In a grim assessment, the European official said that while the economic punishments clearly have inflicted pain on Iran, there has been no signal from its leaders that they are willing to yield ground to relieve the international pressure.
Though Iran officially has been calling for new negotiations over its program, the diplomat said he had not seen a single statement to indicate a change in its leaders' political views on the nuclear program. Instead, some voices within President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime insist there is "no way" they will give ground, and that "there is no need for a meeting," he said.
Since the imposition of the latest sanctions during the summer, "the whole question has been, 'Is that going to create a new political situation?' " he told a group of reporters. "We haven't seen anything yet."
Many countries believe Iran is pursuing a nuclear program to acquire the know-how to build weapons; Iran's government insists it is interested only in peaceful projects.
In June, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions that focused on individuals and companies with ties to Iran's nuclear and military programs. Later, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, South Korea and other industrialized nations added tougher unilateral sanctions, which hit harder at Iran's lucrative energy sector, its trade and ties to international finance. By most accounts the Iranian economy has been further damaged by the second set of sanctions.
Yet the impact has been reduced by the willingness of some countries to keep doing some business with the Islamic Republic.