Monday

25th Mar 2019

US examining EU proposal on Iran

  • Iran is a test of EU-US co-operation (Photo: European Commission)

Washington is considering a proposal by the UK, France and Germany to offer Iran trade benefits, commercial aircraft and aircraft spare parts in return for dismantling what is suspected of being a nuclear weapons programme, according to Sunday's New York Times.

The economic incentives were outlined to US President George W. Bush by the leaders of the three countries during his visit to Europe last week.

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According to the newspaper, specific European proposals for trade benefits, spare parts and aircraft were discussed among cabinet members on Friday (25 February).

But no decision has been made on whether to give the Europeans the go ahead.

France, Germany and the UK have been pushing the diplomatic route with Iran promising trade benefits if Iran abandons its nuclear enrichment activities.

Iran's uranium enrichment facilities have been shut down since November and are under constant monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of Tehran's deal with Paris, Berlin and London.

Russian deal

However, the US, which the EU increasingly feels should come on board for the talks to be effective, has to date not ruled out military intervention in Iran.

It believes Tehran's energy programme is a front for making nuclear weapons.

"A green light from the United States would add a lot of leverage to our capacity to negotiate with the Iranians", said a high-level EU diplomat quoted by the New York Times.

The revelations came on the same day as Russia signed an agreement with Iran on providing fuel for a civilian nuclear power plant in exchange for its promise to return the spent fuel.

The deal was signed at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant on the Gulf coast by the Iranian vice-president, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, and Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Russian atomic energy agency.

According to the Washington Post, evidence of Tehran's nuclear ambitions is growing.

Evidence?

Leaked details of an International Atomic Energy Agency inquiry show that Iran was offered the knowledge needed to make a nuclear bomb by the rogue Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan as early as 1987.

Officials told the Washington Post that Iran bought centrifuge designs and a starter kit for uranium enrichment at a meeting with Dr Khan in Dubai.

"The offer is the strongest indication to date that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme, but it doesn't prove it completely", a diplomat told the Washington Post.

However, the details have not stopped Tehran from pressurising Europe.

Iran’s threats

In an interview with several newspapers in Berlin, the head of Iran's national security council said Tehran would break off the talks if there is no positive progress.

"If, in the middle of March, we decide that progress has been made, then we can continue", said Rohani Hassan. If that is not the case, then Iran "will not proceed" with the talks, he added.

These statements are putting President Jacques Chirac, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Prime Minister Tony Blair under intense pressure.

However, they are not the only ones coming under pressure. Russia's moves to sell nuclear fuel to Iran has prompted calls by the powerful US senator John McCain for Russia to be excluded from the G8 talks in Scotland at the beginning of July.

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