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EU Submits Offer To End Nuclear Standoff

Prague, 5 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Britain, France and Germany -- the so-called EU-3 -- on 5 August submitted a package of proposals to Iran for economic and political cooperation aimed at persuading Tehran to abandon all nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment, which might be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran has announced that the proposal will be evaluated within the next 48 hours and a final decision will be announced.

The contents of the EU proposal --submitted by the ambassadors of Britain, France and Germany to Iran -- have not been officially disclosed.

But the "New York Times," quoting unnamed diplomats, in an article published on 5 August reported that the proposal includes “a full spectrum of relationships for Iran with the West” if Tehran cooperates on nuclear matters and also on improving human rights and combating terrorism.

The EU proposal reportedly acknowledges the right of Iran to peaceful nuclear activities under the condition that fuel for use in its planned commercial nuclear reactors be provided by the West and returned to another country after use for disposal.

An Iranian official close to the negotiations has told Reuters that the EU offer supports Iran as the main transit route for oil and gas from Central Asia to Europe.

The EU proposal has reportedly the tacit approval of the U.S. administration.

Ian Davis, director of the British American Security Information Council, told RFE/RL the offer leaves room for discussion.

“I think we really need to actually see what it is on offer before we can judge and there should be plenty of time to continue negotiations if further explanation or further discussion on particular points is necessary," Davis said. "There is no urgency here, the latest US estimates points we’re 10 years away before Iran is likely to have the capability of nuclear weapons.”

Speaking shortly after the offer was submitted to Iran, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said he hoped Tehran would "hear the voice of reason" and abandon its uranium enrichment plans.

He added that if Iran resumes enrichment, "then it is certain that the international community will ask the Security Council to intervene."

Enriched uranium can be used to fuel civilian power stations but also to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran’s foreign ministry has said that a final decision on the proposal will be announced within two days, after evaluation by Iran's leaders and the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).

Top Iranian officials have said in the past that no incentive will be strong enough to convince Tehran to give up uranium enrichment.

Today a senior nuclear negotiator and SNSC member Hossein Moussavian is quoted by agencies as saying Iran would restart work at a uranium conversion plant near the city of Isfahan regardless of the incentives included in the offer.

Gary Samore, director of Studies at the International Institute For International Studies (IISS), told RFE/RL earlier this week that if Iran carries out its threat the talks between EU and Iran will collapse.

“The IAEA Board of Governors have passed six resolutions -- by consensus -- calling on Iran to accept a suspension of certain nuclear activities," Samore said. "So, if Iran ignores those six resolutions and resumes nuclear activity like conversion them I’m very confident that the IAEA will refer Iran to the Security Council.”

Davis says Iran’s referral to the UN Security Council is not certain. He notes that Iran is entitled as a signatory to the international Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to have a commercial nuclear-energy program and produce fuel domestically for it.

“They do have a legal right under the NPT treaty – providing they’re meeting their safeguards agreement -- and so far the IAEA, although they’ve had a number of concerns about the Iranian nuclear program in the past, have not as yet declared them in breach of those safeguards," he said. "So, I would have thought there would be some serious discussions going on in the IAEA meeting but whether they’d be referred to the UN at this stage is difficult to tell. We’re getting to the crunch point in the discussion but we really do need to wait and see what is in the EU-3 package."

An emergency session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to be held on 9 August to discuss Iran's threats to resume sensitive nuclear-fuel-cycle work.