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Engaging Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures after speaking to the press in Tehran on June 28, 2010. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures after speaking to the press in Tehran on June 28, 2010. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, June 28, 2010 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his government will delay nuclear talks with the West until late August as a "punishment" for tough economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, European Union and the United States.

“As Tehran continues to insist its nuclear activities are peaceful, the Obama administration recently achieved its long sought goal of wrangling international support for tougher sanctions against Iran,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Director of Policy Studies.

The move comes in response to a UN Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions that would freeze the assets of dozens of companies and organizations involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities. It includes those linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

DiMaggio, who also directs Asia Society's Iran Initiative, said no one seriously believes these new UN penalties, coupled with other measures that target Iran’s investment sector, will put an end to Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Meanwhile, CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed that the agency thinks Iran has enough low-enriched uranium now for two weapons, but that it would likely take two years to build the bombs.

Now that the Obama administration can declare a victory on the sanctions front, DiMaggio said "it should quickly move from coercion mode to engagement mode by pursuing a broader strategic dialogue with Tehran that brings in regional security issues, including Afghanistan.”