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. Western nations may make one last offer to Iran on nuclear issue: diplomats
VIENNA (AFP) Oct 12, 2004
European nations are trying to convince the United States to offer Iran incentives in a last effort to get Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons, diplomats said Tuesday.

"There is indeed the idea from the G8 to make a last try on Iran," ahead of a November 25 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency at which a deadline falls for Iran to suspend enrichment and answer all questions about its nuclear ambitions, a diplomat close to the IAEA told AFP.

The diplomat, who asked not to be named, said there could be a "package" offer, spearheaded by Britain, France and Germany, which might include giving Iran access to imported nuclear fuel, but that Iran would in return have to totally suspend its own work on the nuclear fuel cycle.

The G8, made up of the world's top industrialized nations, comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. The United States and senior G8 officials are to meet Friday in Washington to discuss Iran, a US State Department official told AFP from Washington.

US President George W. Bush charges that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons and should be stopped, but he has so far refused to offer Iran incentives to give up its alleged nuclear ambitions.

John Kerry, his opponent for US presidential elections on November 2, has said however that striking a deal with Iran would be the best way to resolve the crisis.

The official said Britain, France and Germany, Europe's big three who advocate a policy of constructive engagement with Iran, "are up to their old tricks. Our policy hasn't changed," as the United States wants the IAEA to bring Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions for hiding sensitive nuclear activities.

Washington has said the Iranians must first agree to abandon any ambitions to make nuclear weapons before such things as technology transfers and the lifting of sanctions can be discussed.

The US official said the European heavyweights were trying now "to get as much G8 endorsement as they can" in order to make it "that much more difficult for Iran to say no."

If the United States backs their position of offering carrots as well as sticks, then the Europeans would agree to work with the United States on taking Iran to the Security Council if Tehran refused, the official said.

Washington is still waiting to see the European proposal.

"The devil is in the details and if the proposal gives Iran any wriggling room to get off the hook, we would be very unhappy with that," the US official said.

The diplomat said "the Americans are not ready now to participate in defining a package," due to the heated campaign ahead of the presidential election.

"The day after the election, things will be clearer," about the position the world's major nations can take in relation to Iran.

In Iran, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi called on the European Union Tuesday to come up with proposals that could end the stand-off between Tehran and the Vienna-based IAEA, but repeated the Islamic Republic's refusal to give up sensitive fuel cycle work.

"The Europeans have not respected their commitment, and it is time that they took a step and presented proposals that respect our legitimate right to use civilian nuclear technology," he was quoted as saying by the student news agency ISNA.

But he added that "it is wrong to think that they can, through negotiations, oblige Iran to give up its right to uranium enrichment," which is allowed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which the IAEA is charged with verifying.

The IAEA has for almost two years been investigating Iran on US allegations that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons and has called for the Islamic Republic to suspend enrichment in order to show its good faith in having a strictly peaceful atomic program.

Uranium enrichment makes fuel for civilian reactors but also what can be the explosive core of atomic bombs.

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