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. US confident incentive package for Iran to be approved
WASHINGTON, May 30 (AFP) May 30, 2006
The United States said it was optimistic that ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany meeting in Vienna this week would endorse a plan to end the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

The plan involves a European Union-drafted package of incentives to get Iran to guarantee it will not make nuclear weapons, as well as sanctions if Tehran does not comply.

Washington confirmed that the five permanent members -- the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain -- and Germany were scheduled to meet in the Austrian capital on Thursday.

"I think the assessment right now is that we feel as though we're in pretty good shape going into Vienna," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

He said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would leave Washington Wednesday for the Vienna talks on the package, which is to guarantee Iran's right to develop nuclear energy in return for Tehran agreeing to halt uranium enrichment.

The enrichment process can be extended to make nuclear weapons, experts say.

Asked whether the ministers would "bless" the package, McCormack said confidently, "It is our hope that they will be ready to sign off on the package in Vienna, if not beforehand."

He declined to give details on the contents of the deal.

"I think we're going to hold off in talking about specific parts of the package until we really have the whole thing put together, ministers and capitals having blessed it, and (are) ready to talk about it in public," he said.

It was reported that disagreements among the six nations centered around the timing of a Security Council resolution to require Iran to comply and open the door to sanctions if it does not.

Russia and China want to delay any sanctions but the United States, France, Germany and Britain want them imposed quickly following any Iranian non-compliance, a European diplomat said.

McCormack said the package of incentives would present the regime of hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a choice: "confrontation or negotiation.

If Iran chose to reject the package, "we believe, at a minimum, a Chapter 7 resolution would be in the offing, again," he said, referring to the key provision in the UN Charter which could allow for sanctions or even military action.

Sanctions being considered at present include an arms embargo on Iran -- something Russia, a major arms supplier to Iran, and China, a major consumer of Iranian oil, resist.

Iran signalled Tuesday that it would study the EU-3 proposal but stuck by its refusal to halt sensitive uranium enrichment work.

McCormack reiterated US objection to any security guarantees to Iran in exchange for forfeiting its nuclear program.

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