Iran: Bringing Crisis to a Head.
By Paul Hughes
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Iran was probably the number one challenge for Washington and would be a major threat to U.S. Middle East interests if it acquired atomic bombs. Iran says its nuclear program is only for civilian use.
Russia, anxious to avert any move to impose U.N. sanctions on Iran, urged Tehran to cooperate with U.N. nuclear inspectors.
Speaking a day after it became clear the U.N. Security Council would take up the Iran standoff, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- ultimate decision-maker in the Islamic Republic -- urged officials not to give in to Western pressure.
Rice said Tehran's vision of the Middle East was totally opposed to Washington's, reiterating concerns that Iran was backing anti-Israel militants and meddling in neighboring Iraq.
Some Iranian officials have hinted that if pressed or threatened, Iran could curb oil exports, or stir trouble for the United States or Israel in the region, where it has links with militants in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
Regime Change Iran