Major Powers Offer Iran New Incentives
Saturday, May 3, 2008
LONDON, May 2 -- Six world powers agreed Friday to offer Iran a new mix of incentives to curtail its nuclear program, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced here.
After meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and top foreign policy figures from Russia, China, France and Germany to discuss Iran's disputed program, Miliband said the group "reviewed and updated" an offer made to Iran in June 2006.
He declined to disclose details of the package, but said it is aimed at showing Tehran "the benefits of cooperating with the international community."
The U.N. Security Council has passed three sets of resolutions against Iran concerning its nuclear program, which Western officials suspect is aimed at building nuclear bombs. Iran contends that its purpose is the peaceful generation of electricity. U.S. officials have worked to keep up international pressure, with Russia and China warning that pressure will probably backfire.
Tehran rejected the 2006 package, which European officials say included economic, security and diplomatic incentives. It included assistance with several nuclear power reactors and guaranteed fuel and cooperation on research on non-sensitive nuclear technology areas. It also pledged steps toward normalizing trade, including help with Iran's application for membership in the World Trade Organization.
The biggest diplomatic offer was broad negotiations with the world's major powers, including the first talks with the United States since relations were severed in response to the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
A diplomat in London, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the centerpiece of the new offer is international assistance for a civilian nuclear program and "a reminder to Iran that there is a good offer on the table." One European official said that the new offer adds "a bit" to the 2006 offer but that "there's a limit to how many incentives can be added."
The five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, have been discussing a strategy that includes both sanctions and incentives to persuade Iran to roll back its nuclear program.
"We very much hope that they will recognize the seriousness and the severity with which we have approached this issue and that they will respond in a timely manner to the suggestions we are making," Miliband said, referring to Iranian officials.
In Washington, French Prime Minister François Fillon said Iran faces global isolation unless it engages with the international community over its nuclear program.
"We have to do everything we could to avoid finding ourselves faced with the only solution of bombing Iran," he said through an interpreter at a news conference, the Reuters news agency reported. "The only option is to pressure the Iranian government through diplomatic means, economic means and financial means."
Wright reported from Washington.