Iran Nuclear NewsIran offered possibility of enriching uranium

Iran offered possibility of enriching uranium

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AFP: The United States and Europe have offered Iran the possibility of carrying out uranium enrichment activities in its territory if it meets certain stringent conditions, The Washington Post said. WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States and Europe have offered Iran the possibility of carrying out uranium enrichment activities in its territory if it meets certain stringent conditions, The Washington Post said.

Contained in the “carrots and sticks” package presented to Iran on Tuesday by the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, the proposal says that Iran has to satisfy International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and the UN Security Council, European and US officials told the daily.

The IAEA must determine “with confidence” that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and the council must be satisfied that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon, the officials said.

The offer is a policy reversal for Washington, which up to now has insisted that Iran abandon its uranium enrichment program — which can be used in making a nuclear weapon — before it joins international talks on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

“We are basically now saying that over the long haul, if they restore confidence, that this Iranian regime can have enrichment at home,” said one US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“But they have to answer every concern given all that points to a secret weapons program.”

The package, presented by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, offers a variety of incentives and fresh multilateral talks if Tehran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment work, which can make both reactor fuel and weapons.

While being offered carrots, Iran also faces the stick of robust Security Council action, including a range of possible sanctions, if it rejects the offer and continues what the West fears is a covert weapons drive.

The decision to allow Iran to pursue its uranium enrichment program, came after weeks of intense and high-level discussions in Washington and in Tehran aimed at deflecting confrontation.

“Each side has taken a more serious look at what the other wants and how compromise can be reached,” a Western diplomat told The Washington Post.

Negotiations between Tehran and Western countries concerned with the spread of nuclear weapons have been largely stymied by a US insistence that Iran abandon its uranium enrichment program and Iran’s steadfast refusal to do so.

A US official who asked not to be identified said that, in Washington’s view, the possibility for Iran to one day enrich uranium was “a very important part of the deal, and it’s what will allow Iran to accept it.”

“Iran always spun previous offers as an attempt to keep it from exercising its rights to enrich. Now that is explicitly not the case,” the official added.

Iran gave a cautious reception on Tuesday to the international proposal, saying the offer contained “positive steps” but also “ambiguities”.

US President George W. Bush cautiously welcomed Iran’s “positive” initial reaction.

“We will see if the Iranians take our offer seriously. The choice is theirs to make,” Bush said Tuesday in Texas. “I want to solve this issue with Iran diplomatically.”

In a separate report, ABC television news said Tuesday the international proposal included possible guarantees for Iran’s “terroritorial integrity,” in another possible reversal of a US policy that refused to rule out military action against Iran if it persisted on its alleged path to nuclear weapons.

If Iran addresses concerns over its nuclear program, the proposal holds out the possibility of international support for “regional security cooperation” involving states in the Gulf region and other “interested countries,” according to the draft copy of the proposal posted on the ABC News website.

World powers would be ready to support discussions among Iran and countries in the region “with the aim of establishing regional security arrangements and a cooperative relationship on important regional security issues, including guarantees for territorial integrity and poltical sovereignty,” the document states.

The US administration has previously declined to grant security guarantees to Iran, which some analysts say could be crucial to defusing the standoff.

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