Tuesday

2nd Jun 2020

Rice dismisses EU-US nuclear offer to Tehran

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has denied there is any EU-US backing of a Russian proposal to resolve a long-running nuclear dispute with Iran.

"There is no US-European proposal to the Iranians, I want to say that categorically," Mrs Rice told reporters, according to the BBC.

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  • Is the Bush administration deeply divided? (Photo: The White House)

"There isn't and there won't be. We are not parties to these negotiations and we don't intend to become parties to the negotiations."

The proposal would permit Iran to conduct very limited nuclear activities on its own soil, while the enrichment of uranium would take place in Russia.

Without a new proposal to break the current impasse over Tehran's nuclear program, the dispute may be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions to be imposed on Iran.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is entirely intended for peaceful purposes.

Deep divisions

The latest proposal was discussed at length earlier this week at a meeting between Condoleezza Rice and Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring agency, the New York Times reported.

But the new proposal has deeply divided the Bush administration, according to the paper.

"The problem with this offer is that if the Iranians have a secret enrichment plant someplace that we don't know about, we're leaving them with the raw material they need," a senior American official was quoted saying.

The US fears Iran could use the highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon.

Only a few weeks ago Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked massive international protests, when he stated that Israel should be "wiped off the map".

His remarks fuelled efforts by the US and the EU to have the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) refer Iran to the UN security council at its meeting in Vienna later this month.

France, Germany and the UK – the EU 3 – signed a deal with Iran in Paris last November under which Tehran agreed to halt enrichment while negotiations continue.

But Iran rejected the EU’s trade-based proposal over the summer and resumed enrichment at its plant in Isfahan, claiming a right to nuclear energy under international law.

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