Iran General NewsOn Iran, Bush Weighs a Joint Strategy With the...

On Iran, Bush Weighs a Joint Strategy With the Europeans

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New York Times: President Bush, working to define a common strategy with Europe to get Iran to dismantle its suspected nuclear weapons program, conferred Thursday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about what the Iranian government must do as its part of any agreement, according to American and European officials.
New York Times

By STEVEN R. WEISMAN

WASHINGTON – President Bush, working to define a common strategy with Europe to get Iran to dismantle its suspected nuclear weapons program, conferred Thursday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about what the Iranian government must do as its part of any agreement, according to American and European officials.

The officials said that as a result of Ms. Rice’s talks with European envoys in London earlier in the week, the United States was now trying to refine an outline of steps that Iran needed to take to move from what one official said was a “suspension” of its program to a full “cessation.”

Mr. Bush, addressing the subject while talking to reporters on Thursday at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., said he was “most appreciative that our friends in Europe agree with the United States, and Iran should not have a nuclear weapon, period – no ands, ifs or buts.”

American and European officials have indicated that the United States is seriously considering an endorsement of a European proposal to offer Iran trade benefits – including membership in the World Trade Organization – as well as the sale of commercial aircraft and aircraft spare parts as part of a deal to halt its nuclear program.

The offer would be made by Europeans, not the United States, in part because of American laws barring commercial exchanges with Iran and because of what administration officials say would be a furor in Congress if incentives came to Iran from Washington, which has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Iranian government.

But administration and European officials also said that the more important part of the talks centered on precisely what would constitute compliance in fulfilling a commitment to prevent its civilian nuclear program from becoming a cover for building bombs, which the Bush administration says is already happening.

A European official said that among the steps being hammered out were defining in advance what would constitute a violation of a commitment by Iran, what sort of inspections to require and what steps Iran should take to prevent its civilian nuclear reactor at Bushehr, Iran, from being used to make weapons.

A senior State Department official said the discussions were detailed and would probably lead in the next couple of weeks to some kind of an accord that would form the basis of the approach to Iran. “The important thing is that we agree with the Europeans that we have to turn the current suspension of their nuclear activities into a full cessation,” he said.

Mr. Bush said that he was working with Europeans “to help move the process forward,” but that it was Iran that was the “guilty party” that needed to take steps to assure the rest of the world of its intentions.

“We are working with our friends to make sure not only the world hears that but that the negotiating strategy achieves the objective of pointing out where the guilt needs to be, as well as achieving the objective of no nuclear weapons,” he added.

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