EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana said the package of incentives would be "exceptional" (epa)
May 15, 2006 -- The EU says it is ready to offer Iran sophisticated civilian nuclear technology as part of a new package of trade and technical incentives designed to halt Tehran's suspected military nuclear program.
EU High Representative for the Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana told reporters after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels that the bloc's package of incentives would be "exceptional" and would allow Iran to produce nuclear energy for civilian purposes.
But he said it is "fundamental" that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities.
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said the bloc would support a "proliferation-proof" civilian nuclear program in Iran.
Plassnik said the EU's new plan would contain three elements -- economic assistance and political cooperation, in addition to support for a civilian nuclear program. She said the EU remains committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad reiterated on May 14
that Iran would reject any foreign demands to stop what he called Iran's peaceful nuclear activities.
Economic sanctions could further undermine Iran's already shaky economy (Fars)
MOVING TOWARD SANCTIONS: If the United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions on Iran, domestic support for Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad will wane, according to ALEX VATANKA, Eurasia editor for Jane's Information Group.
Vatanka told a February 24 RFE/RL briefing that "economic sanctions will hurt the average Iranian" and, consequently, many "will blame the ruling clerics" for making life difficult and "impairing the country's long term development."
Vatanka said sanctions would be a serious challenge to the Iranian government. If harsh economic sanctions were imposed, Iran's poorest population will be hurt the hardest -- and might react "as they did in the 1970s and protest in the streets." Sanctions on travel, Vatanka said, would hurt a many Iranians because "Iran is a nation of small traders" who depend on the ability to travel to earn an income. According to Vatanka, unemployment in Iran is estimated at 30 percent, "so small trading is essential to survival." Although current U.S. sanctions "haven't worked," he said, "Iranians fear an oil embargo." He stressed that "oil revenues are a major part of the economy, so it is critical to look at this sector."
Should negotiations with the European Union and the UN fail, Vatanka believes that Iran would follow a "North Korea model," since Ahmadinejad's base of support among the "Islamist militias" has been "urging withdrawal from the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]." The Iranian government's "tactic" so far, Vatanka said, is governed by the belief that "by shouting the loudest, you'll get concessions [from the West]."
Listen to the complete panel discussion (about 60 minutes):
THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's coverage of the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.
CHRONOLOGY An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.