Iran Nuclear NewsIran looks set to reject nuclear peace deal

Iran looks set to reject nuclear peace deal

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Daily Telegraph: Iran gave a cool reception last night to a long-awaited series of European Union proposals aimed at staving off a confrontation over Teheran’s nuclear ambitions. Following two years of diplomacy, the “EU3” – Britain, France and Germany – offered a range of economic and political incentives to try to persuade Iran to abandon its controversial uranium-enrichment activities. Daily Telegraph

By Alec Russell in Washington

Iran gave a cool reception last night to a long-awaited series of European Union proposals aimed at staving off a confrontation over Teheran’s nuclear ambitions.

Following two years of diplomacy, the “EU3” – Britain, France and Germany – offered a range of economic and political incentives to try to persuade Iran to abandon its controversial uranium-enrichment activities.

The Iranian foreign ministry said Teheran would respond formally over the weekend. But the initial dismissive response of a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, who described the proposals as “unacceptable”, did not bode well for their acceptance.

EU negotiators said that if Iran rejected the offer, they would have no choice but to summon an emergency meeting of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, on Tuesday.

The IAEA would then come under intense pressure from the EU and Washington to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, although it might call for more talks.

In return for a binding commitment not to develop nuclear weapons, the EU3 proposed better trade relations, and backing for Iran’s civilian nuclear programme, including access to nuclear fuel.

Philippe Douste-Blazy, France’s foreign minister, defended the package, saying it was “ambitious and generous”.

“I hope that Iran will hear the voice of reason and that it will take the path of negotiation and dialogue, and that it will not move towards a resumption of nuclear activities,” he said.

The EU’s offer allowed Iran the right to build and run light-water reactors for generating electricity. But it also called for work to cease on a heavy-water reactor at Arak, which could be used for high-grade plutonium suitable for weapons.

Washington has backed the EU initiative. While the Bush administration has been sceptical of its chances of success, it was eager to be seen as giving diplomacy a chance.

Iran insists that its nuclear work is for only peaceful purposes. But America is convinced – and Europe all but convinced – that it is a front for work on a bomb.

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