AFP: Europe's three main nations are ready to promise Iran nuclear technology, including supplying a light-water nuclear reactor, if Tehran takes steps to show it is not secretly trying to make atomic weapons, according to a confidential document obtained by AFP Tuesday. "We would support the acquisition
by Iran of a light water research reactor," said the seven-page document presented by Britain, France and Germany ... AFP

by Michael Adler

VIENNA - Europe's three main nations are ready to promise Iran nuclear technology, including supplying a light-water nuclear reactor, if Tehran takes steps to show it is not secretly trying to make atomic weapons, according to a confidential document obtained by AFP Tuesday.

"We would support the acquisition by Iran of a light water research reactor," said the seven-page document presented by Britain, France and Germany to the G8 group of industrialized nations last week in Washington ahead of a meeting of the so-called Euro-3 with Iran on Thursday in Vienna.

The meeting is to give Iran a last-chance to come clean and to agree to suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment before the UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency decides on November 25 in Vienna whether Iran is cooperating or not with the IAEA.

The United States wants the IAEA, which since February 2003 been investigating Iran on US charges that the Islamic Republic has a covert nuclear weapons program, to send Iran to the UN Security Council, which could impose punishing sanctions.

But the EU3 have opposed this, favoring instead a policy of "constructive engagement" to get Tehran to cooperate. The EU3 reached an agreement with Iran in October 2003 to suspend uranium enrichment but this did not include support activities such as building centrifuges and making the feed gas for the enrichment process.

A Western diplomat told AFP the EU3 had told the United States the document would be "used as the basis to make the (last-chance) offer to Iran" although it was not the final text.

The document said there was only "a short period of time (left) to secure a comprehensive and acceptable understanding from Iran."

The United States does not "endorse" the EU3 approach but is watching the EU3 initiative to see how it turns out and then reconvene the G8 nations, which include Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, the Western diplomat said.

"We intend to put to the Iranians an approach containing the immediate decisions we require from them on suspension and draft elements for a long-term agreement which we could start to negotiate as soon as the IAEA verifies that the suspension is in place," the EU3 paper said.

"The suspension will be indefinite, until we reach an acceptable long-term agreement," the three European nations said.

They said that if Iran failed to suspend all uranium enrichment activities, the Euro 3 would join the United States in calling for the Islamic Republic to be taken to the Security Council.

Uranium enrichment can be used to make fuel for civilian reactors but also the explosive core of atomic weapons.

Iran is also working on building a heavy water reactor, which can make plutonium ideal for nuclear weapons, while a light water reactor makes a safer form of plutonium, experts said.

If Iran plays ball, the EU3 would be ready to promise a whole range of measures, including access to nuclear fuel for its civilian reactors and recognizing Iran's right "to develop a nuclear power generation program to reduce its dependence on oil and gas."

The EU would also "be ready to resume negotiations on an EU/Iran trade and cooperation agreement" and back Russia's building of a nuclear reactor for Iran in Bushehr, the paper said.

"To this end, we intend to give the Iranians a clear indication of the sort of longer term benefits Iran would gain in return for the suspension we seek. "Much of this has been offered before, but we will pull it together into a single package," the paper said.

A top Iranian nuclear official reiterated Tuesday his government's assertion that it wants to enrich uranium to provide fuel for its future nuclear power plants.

"We are not saying we are refusing Westerners offers to provide us with nuclear fuel, but we want also to produce our own nuclear fuel," Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh said on state television.

But the foreign ministers of Britain and Germany issued a joint warning to Iran on Tuesday to address international worries about its nuclear program, serving notice that Tehran must take action immediately.

"Iran has yet to give us the confidence we need about its intentions," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said at a joint press conference in London with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who endorsed the sentiments.