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. US cool to call for security guarantees for Iran
WASHINGTON (AFP) Dec 12, 2005
The United States poured cold water Monday on a call by the head of the UN nuclear watchdog to provide Iran with US security assurances if Tehran forswears development of nuclear weapons.

Deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Washington backed efforts by EU members Britain, France and Germany to wean Iran off its suspected nuclear ambitions with economic and other incentives.

Ereli told reporters that all dealings with Teheran should focus on "a consistent and established pattern of Iranian misbehavior and Iranian violation of its commitments and Iranian deception.

"And before anybody asks the United States to do something, it's up to Iran to answer the questions, act like a responsible member of the international community, and stop violating its agreements with the EU-3 and others."

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agencyurged the Americans on Monday to put US security assurances on the table with Iran like they have done in similar talks with North Korea.

"I see security assurances provided by the US as part of the solution," ElBaradei told reporters in Stockholm two days after picking up this year's Nobel peace prize in Oslo.

"I hope that as the negotiations with the European Union will resume that the US at some point will be more engaged," he said.

ElBaradei spoke a day after Iran, which denies seeking a nuclear bomb, said a planned meeting later this month with Britain, France and Germany would be decisive for negotiations on the crisis.

Analysts have suggested that US security guarantees could be crucial to Iran with American troops operating in two of its neighbors, Iraq in the west and Afghanistan in the east.

The United States has said it was willing to provide written security assurances to North Korea to further six-party talks aimed at reining in Pyongyang's much-more-advanced nuclear arms program.

But Ereli said that as far as Iran goes, "The question is not, 'Why does the United States do A, and why doesn't the United States do B?' and, 'Oh, gee whiz, if only the United States would do this, we wouldn't have a problem.'

"Our response to security guarantees is ... let's see Iran do what Iran has steadfastly refused to do for almost half a dozen (IAEA) Board of Governors resolutions," he said.

"Let's see Iran address the concerns and answer the questions of the international community."

A senior State Department official, able to speak more bluntly on condition of anonymity, dismissed the entire issue of security assurances as a smoke screen for the Iranians.

"Diplomatic niceties aside, these guys are bent on developing a nuclear weapon and they are going to stop at nothing to do it," he said. "And so us giving them security guarantees at this point is not going to change that."

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