Reuters: United Nations Security Council powers meet on Wednesday to try to hammer out a joint strategy to stop Iran enriching uranium and to consider a package of incentives drafted by European countries. By Madeline Chambers
LONDON (Reuters) – United Nations Security Council powers meet on Wednesday to try to hammer out a joint strategy to stop Iran enriching uranium and to consider a package of incentives drafted by European countries.
Officials from the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France (all veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council) and rotating member Germany will discuss the next step in efforts to head off a crisis over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
The United States and some of its allies suspect Iran’s nuclear programme is a cover for efforts to develop atomic weapons. The Islamic Republic says it is developing nuclear technology for civilian power generation.
Officials will discuss an offer of incentives, combined with threats, drafted by the European Union trio aimed at getting Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment, which can be used as a nuclear fuel and is a key component of atomic weapons.
“We are undertaking work to spell out more clearly the benefits Iran would enjoy from cooperating — and equally the further isolation that would result if Iran failed to cooperate,” said a British official.
The EU package may include an offer of a light-water reactor and an assured supply from abroad of fuel for civilian atomic plants so Iran would not have to enrich uranium itself.
There could also be warnings of possible sanctions against Iran, which is the world’s fourth largest oil producer, if it declines the offer.
However, doubts linger that such a package will be acceptable to Iran, which last week ruled out halting its sensitive nuclear work.
One of the most sensitive areas is the question of security guarantees from the United States.
Some EU officials, the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency and many analysts believe Iran could be motivated to stop activity that could lead to nuclear bomb-making only with a U.S. pledge not to try to topple the Islamic Republic’s government.
But Washington has dismissed the notion of guarantees to Iranian leaders who repeatedly call for Israel’s destruction and whom it sees as orchestrators of anti-Western terrorism. Tehran, in turn, has said such guarantees could not be trusted.
The United States says it wants a diplomatic solution to the standoff but has not ruled out military action.
Officials will discuss how to present the package to Iran as well as the substance of the offer at Wednesday’s meeting, diplomats said.
If Iran rejects the package, Washington will seek to pursue a U.N. Security Council resolution which includes sanctions.