Saturday, June 14, 2008

Iran won't bargain on nuclear program

 Last update - 11:30 14/06/2008       
Iran: We'll refuse EU incentives if they mean halting nuke work
By Reuters
Iran rejected on Saturday any suspension of its nuclear enrichment program, after the EU's top diplomat handed Tehran a world powers' offer of economic benefits to try and persuade it to stop such work.
 
"If the package [from six major powers] includes suspension it is not debatable at all," Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham told reporters.
 
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Saturday handed Iran an offer of trade and other benefits from world powers if it suspends nuclear enrichment, which the Islamic Republic has repeatedly refused to do.
 
Solana arrived in Tehran late on Friday to present an incentives package agreed by the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany in the latest bid to end a deepening dispute over Tehran's atomic ambitions.
 
Solana's spokeswoman said he presented the offer to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran and that talks were under way.
 
The offer, including civilian nuclear cooperation, is a revised version of one rejected by Iran two years ago.
 
The world's fourth-largest oil producer has ruled out halting a nuclear program it says is for generating electricity but which Western powers suspect is aimed at making bombs.
 
Seeking to step up the pressure, the United States and the 27-nation EU have threatened more sanctions if Tehran does not stop enriching uranium, which has both civilian and military uses.
 
Solana says he hopes the incentives package will start a new process for resolving the long-running standoff, which has helped push up crude prices to record highs, but has also played down the prospect for a breakthrough.
 
Solana, who has said he expects no "miracles", said the proposals would support Iran in developing a modern nuclear energy program and also covered political and economic ties.
 
"I am traveling to Tehran to present a generous and comprehensive offer," he said in a statement.
 
"I am convinced that it is possible to change the present state of affairs," Solana said. "Our proposal is good for the future of Iran and for the future of the Iranian people."
 
The United States, which is leading efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear ambitions, says it wants to resolve the dispute diplomatically but has not ruled out military action.
 
The incentives package, hammered out by the six major powers in May, is an updated and enhanced version of an offer spurned by Iran in 2006, which also included wider trade in civil aircraft, energy, high technology and agriculture.
 
Iran's refusal to stop enrichment, which can provide fuel for power plants or material for bombs if refined much more, has drawn three rounds of UN sanctions against the country since 2006.
 
Solana was accompanied by senior officials from the major powers with the exception of the United States, which cut ties with Iran after its 1979 Islamic revolution.
 
On a farewell tour of Europe this week, U.S. President George W. Bush said a nuclear-armed Iran would be "incredibly dangerous for world peace" and that "all options are on the table", alluding to military action as a last resort.
 
Concern in the oil market that Tehran's nuclear dispute with the West may lead to a disruption in its crude exports have helped drive oil to record levels near $140 a barrel, hurting the United States and other consumer nations.

1 comment:

Bert said...

This is a mess that the new American administration will inherit. Nuclear proliferation in the middle east now appears inevitable.