U.S. considering rewards for Iran if it gives up nuke plans
October 12, 2004
VIENNA, Austria (AP) – Reconsidering its hard line on Iran, the United States is weighing the idea of rewarding the Islamic republic if it gives up technology that can be used for nuclear arms, diplomats said Tuesday.
The diplomats, who spoke to The Associated Press from Vienna and another European capital, said senior European negotiators directly answerable to their foreign ministers planned to go to Washington this week for discussions with top U.S. State Department officials on a common Iran strategy.
“Discussions are ongoing between the Americans and the Europeans on how to address the nuclear question in Iran,” a diplomat said.
The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, emphasized that the talks were still at an initial stage. They also said the United States was holding on to its option of pushing for U.N. Security Council action against Iran if it is found in defiance of international demands to stop all activities related to uranium enrichment.
For more than a year, the United States has pushed other nations at board meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency to find Iran in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty because of past clandestine activities and refer it to the Security Council, which could impose sanctions. But its attempts foundered due to resistance from other members of the 35-nation IAEA board of governors.
The new strategy, disclosed by the diplomats, appeared in part prompted by recognition that Washington could again fall short of support at the next board meeting in Vienna in November.
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Uranium enrichment can be used to generate power or make nuclear warheads. The Americans insist the Iranians are hiding a secret weapons program – something Tehran denies.
The Americans have in the past said they welcomed attempts by France, Britain and Germany to get Iran to shelve plans to enrich in exchange for pledges to help Tehran develop its peaceful nuclear program.
But one of the diplomats said the Americans now are more actively involved in planning the package – which would offer incentives but also penalties should Iran remain defiant.
“I think they are speaking less about sanctions and how to move the process forward,” said the diplomat, who is familiar with the talks.