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. EU offers reactors to Iran, threatens arms embargo
VIENNA, May 20 (AFP) May 20, 2006
The EU is calling on world powers to help Iran's nuclear and other industries if Tehran stops enriching uranium but wants Russia and China to join in sanctions, including an arms embargo, if Iran does not, according to a copy of a draft proposal seen by AFP Friday.

The proposal by the trio of Britain, France and Germany says world powers should support Iran's building several light water reactors, set up a nuclear fuel bank and even have the United States drop restrictions on Iran's buying US commercial airplanes, if Iran takes steps to guarantee it will not make nuclear weapons.

But if Tehran does not do this, sanctions should follow including an arms embargo, in an escalating international standoff over an Iranian civilian nuclear power program which the United States claims hides the development of atomic weapons.

An arms embargo "would have a significant impact on Russian and Chinese arms sales to Iran," non-proliferation analyst Gary Samore said, referring to the two nations extensive trade ties with their Iranian ally.

"The question mark is whether the Russian and Chinese will sign up to the sanctions part," said Samore, a former White House official now at the McArthur Foundation in Chicago.

The four-page draft text, to be discussed among the EU-3, plus China, Russia and the United States in London next Wednesday, lists 15 targeted sanctions for the UN Security Council to choose from, doling them out as graduated "proportionate measures," if Iran does not comply.

The sanctions are divided into "measures targeted against Iran's nuclear and missiles programmes" and "political and economic measures" and include the arms embargo, a "visa/travel ban on selected high-ranking officials and personalities" and a "freeze of assets of individuals and organizations connected to or close to the regime."

But the benefits include Russia enriching uranium for Iran, with Tehran as a partner "in an international fuel cycle center in Russia," the text said.

A senior European diplomat noted that the text also "talks about security but the word 'security guarantees' does not figure," as Washington is against giving Iran assurances that it will not be attacked.

The United States, which charges that Iran is using a civilian nuclear program to hide the development of atomic weapons, backs the text "on certain conditions," a Western diplomat said, without elaborating.

The European diplomat said Washington needs to join any future negotiations with Iran, something it now refuses to do, as this would be the only way to convince Tehran that it will get benefits.

For instance, European companies that make light water reactors, less of a proliferation risk than the heavy-water type, would not deal with Iran without a green light from Washington, as they have large business dealings with the United States.

Samore said Russia and China "may say they can agree to the package but only if the United States agrees to participate in multilateral talks with Iran."

"This would put the Bush administration in a very difficult position," Sameore said.

Diplomats are pessimistic about finding a deal which would be acceptable to Iran, since Tehran has already rejected any halt in uranium enrichment, which makes fuel for nuclear power reactors but also atom bomb material.

But Samore said that if the Russians and Chinese back tough sanctions, "then Iran might sign on to accept conditions for resuming negotiations."

Russian and China, however, "are likely to press for changes in the text," the Western diplomat said, particularly as they fear sanctions could be a step towards military action against Iran.

The draft text says that "in the event that Iran does not cooperate with the international community," sanctions could be chosen "adopted under Chapter VII, Article 41 of the UN Charter."

This article mandates measures to enforce Security Council decisions but does not include the use of armed force.

Diplomats said this was a compromise gesture to Russia and China as it would make compliance a legal obligation but avoid opening the door to war.

The draft, entitled "possible elements of a revised proposal to Iran", affirms "Iran's inalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes".

But it says that Iran must cooperate fully with inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency and "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and to continue this" during negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.

The Security Council on March 29 had asked Iran to honor IAEA calls for it to suspend its enrichment work and also to cooperate fully with an IAEA investigation, ongoing for three years, which has so far been unable to determine whether the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful or weapons-related.

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