Reuters: World powers meet on Thursday to approve a batch of incentives for Iran not to pursue nuclear know-how with arms potential but Tehran has dismissed the move already, challenging the West to resort to threatened sanctions. By Mark Heinrich
VIENNA (Reuters) – World powers meet on Thursday to approve a batch of incentives for Iran not to pursue nuclear know-how with arms potential but Tehran has dismissed the move already, challenging the West to resort to threatened sanctions.
There was no guarantee of a deal at the Vienna meeting of veto-holding U.N. Security Council states and Germany since Russia and China are loath to accept any triggers to penalties that U.S. and EU leaders want to add to the package for Iran.
“There is still no agreement so far. We’ll have to see if we can get one tomorrow. We’re hopeful,” an EU diplomat said.
Iran has rejected in advance the planned overture from Britain, France, China, the United States, Russia and Germany as akin to offering “candies for gold”.
Diplomats said the incentives offer might be an academic exercise and the priority was to find a formula for punitive options Moscow and Beijing could live with.
Unlike Washington, the two say Iran poses no immediate danger. They say possibilities for compromise with Tehran have not been exhausted and so entertaining sanctions is premature.
To win Russian endorsement in Vienna for a planned Security Council resolution underpinning the package for Iran, Washington has agreed that no reference would be made to possible use of military force, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. The Times quoted U.S. and European officials for its report.
Iran says it wants enriched uranium only for electricity generation. The West suspects a smokescreen for bomb making.
Diplomats said the incentives prepared by Britain, France and Germany would include a light-water nuclear reactor and an assured foreign supply of atomic fuel so Iran would not need to enrich uranium itself.
Sanctions could entail visa bans and a freeze on assets of senior Iranian officials before resorting to trade measures.
But Iran was disdainful in the run-up to Thursday’s meeting.
Deputy Iranian atomic energy director Mohammad Saeedi told the West to consider “irreversible realities” — an allusion to Iran’s announcement in April that it had successfully enriched uranium to a grade suitable for use in atomic power plants.
“If they ignore these realities, any proposal will surely face difficulties,” he said on Tuesday.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tehran presented no immediate threat and urged the West to avoid repeating mistakes made with Iraq and North Korea.
ElBaradei has privately urged Western leaders to consider a face-saving compromise that allows Iran to keep limited uranium enrichment under strict monitoring. This would be accompanied by mutual security assurances to defuse U.S.-Iranian hostility.
He told an academic forum in California that the world should not “jump the gun” with erroneous intelligence, as he said the U.S.-led coalition did in attacking Iraq in 2003, nor push Iran into reprisals as U.N. sanctions did in North Korea.
“You look around in the Middle East right now and it’s a total mess. You cannot add oil to that fire,” he said.
Iran said on Tuesday it wanted to revive negotiations with the EU and could even talk to Washington if its arch-foe “changed behavior”.
U.S. officials swatted aside the Iranian trial balloons.
Britain, France and Germany say Iran must reinstate an enrichment halt under which earlier negotiations proceeded.
(Additional reporting by Thom Akeman in California and Louis Charbonneau in Berlin)