Controversial moves by the hardline Iranian regime to restart a nuclear fuel cycle has prompted a swath of criticism from the West, including comments from President Bush that he was “very deeply suspicious” of the Iranian decision.

Iran has repeatedly said that it is still prepared to negotiate after rejecting a deal brokered by the EU-3 of the UK, France and Germany. However, the country maintains its right to develop a civil nuclear programme and has taken steps to resume its uranium enrichment programme.

Iran could face United Nations sanctions over the issue, though a scenario of economic sanctions is unlikely to pass given the civil nuclear ambitions of a number of security council members.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been holding crisis meetings to consider next steps but with patience wearing thin European governments expect the US to press for a harder line against Iran over the issue. But despite America’s suspicions, so far Iran has not violated its legal obligations with work at its Isfahan nuclear facility being performed in the presence of IAEA inspectors who had been permitted to install surveillance cameras and none of the IAEA seals on important parts of the uranium enrichment cycle broken.
Newly inaugurated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has maintained that the country might be ready to negotiate international safeguards for the nuclear programme.