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Talks among world powers on Iran likely delayed: US

No agreement
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 16, 2006
World powers will probably push back a meeting on Iran's nuclear crisis set for this week, a senior US diplomat said Tuesday.

Western governments have not completed a list of incentives meant to persuade Iran to stop enriching uranium, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said.

"The package has not been approved. It is under development," Burns said.

"We will be meeting probably next week in London," instead of Friday as planned.

But Burns said talks on new incentives offered Iran to forfeit its nuclear program were progressing.

"We are just at the beginning," Burns said, "I can't say anything about the package as it is still being negotiated."

Representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) plus Germany were to meet in London on May 19 to examine the package of incentives to be offered if Iran agrees to end the enrichment of uranium, which could be used to generate power, as Iran claims, or to build a bomb, as some nations fear.

That meeting was announced last week, after a dinner in New York of foreign ministers of the six countries trying to forge a common approach on Iran.

While Washington said the talks were advancing, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Beijing repeated on Tuesday that Russia and China remained opposed to politically isolating Iran. Beijing announced its intention to invite Iran to a summit on security in Central Asia next month.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that the United States was not opposed "in principle" to allowing Iran to use atomic technology peacefully.

According to diplomats in Vienna, the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Europe and the United States are considering a proposal would allow Iran to acquire a light-water nuclear reactor in return for forfeiting uranium enrichment. Russia would enrich uranium on Iran's behalf.

"The Russians have made an attractive offer to them," McCormack said.

UN sanctions could follow if Iran did not accept the deal, diplomats in Vienna told AFP.

"The Iranian regime would like to make this an argument over principle about whether or not they can have peaceful nuclear power. That's not the issue," McCormack said.

"The issue is that they, through their actions and decades' worth of obfuscation and lying to the international community, have eroded the trust down to zero with the international community concerning what exactly they are doing with respect to their nuclear energy program," he said.

However, he did not give further details of the possible deal. "I'm going to let the diplomacy take place in private," he said.

Related Links

Iran says not interested in EU incentives
Tehran (AFP) May 16, 2006
Iran reiterated Tuesday that it was not interested in an European Union offer of incentives in return for a halt to the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.

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