Reuters: Germany, Britain and France have proposed offering Iran a number of incentives to abandon its nuclear enrichment program, including nuclear power plants and guarantees of atomic fuel, an EU diplomat said. By Louis Charbonneau
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany, Britain and France have proposed offering Iran a number of incentives to abandon its nuclear enrichment program, including nuclear power plants and guarantees of atomic fuel, an EU diplomat said.
“We agreed to offer Iran a nuclear power plant and possibly more along with support for an international (nuclear) fuel consortium to guarantee fuel for civilian nuclear activity,” a diplomat from the European Union familiar with the draft proposal agreed by the “EU3” told Reuters.
The EU and United States believe Iran is secretly developing atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program. Iran says its atomic program is solely aimed at the peaceful generation of electricity.
Russia has proposed creating a fuel consortium to enable Iran to enrich uranium in Russia to low-grade levels for use as fuel for reactors and the EU draft appears to support this idea. The consortium would be a joint venture based in Russia.
Iran has so far reacted negatively to the idea of the joint venture with Russia but has not ruled it out.
The EU draft proposal will be discussed in London on Wednesday by senior officials from the EU3, the United States, Russia and China, the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
The United States has not yet approved the proposal.
“We’re still looking at it and we’ve not yet decided our position,” Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told Reuters, adding he would deliver the U.S. response at the London meeting.
The draft also offers Iran a kind of security guarantee, saying the EU would work toward “recognition of territorial integrity” of Middle Eastern countries, the EU diplomat said.
In exchange, Iran would have to suspend all aspects of its uranium enrichment program — including research and development work — and cease construction of a heavy water nuclear reactor at Arak to assure the world that it is not trying to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.
The EU diplomat said that the proposal also included warnings about possible sanctions if Iran continued enriching uranium. The possible sanctions were virtually identical to a paper given to the 25 EU members last month, he said.
That “Iran Options Paper” suggested a number of possible sanctions, including visa bans for high-ranking Iranian officials and their families, freezing assets of Iranian individuals and companies and trade sanctions.
In Washington diplomats said the EU had asked the United States to consider selling new airplanes to Iran as part of the proposed package.
After news leaked that the EU would be willing to offer a single nuclear reactor, Iran dismissed the idea as “candy for gold.”
EU and U.S. officials say they expect Iran to reject the proposed incentives, but they say this will make it clear that Iran is not interested in civilian nuclear energy, as Tehran insists, but atomic bombs.
(Additional reporting by Carol Giacomo in Washington)