EU Big Three Offered Iran Carrot for Nuclear Deal
Fri September 19, 2003 08:14 AM ET
By Paul Taylor and Louis Charbonneau
BRUSSELS/VIENNA (Reuters) -
Britain, Germany and France defied the United States last month by offering Iran the prospect of sharing technology if it stops its disputed nuclear fuel enrichment program and accepts tougher U.N. inspections.
Western diplomats told Reuters a joint letter by the big three European foreign ministers, the content of which has not previously been disclosed, was delivered to Tehran in early August despite intense lobbying by Washington.
It highlighted a gulf between the Bush administration and even its closest European ally, Britain, on whether to engage or isolate the Islamic republic.
The Europeans urged Iran to sign, implement and ratify a protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that provides for intrusive, short-notice inspections and to halt its uranium enrichment program, which the West fears could be at the heart of a clandestine nuclear arms program.
In return for compliance, the letter raised the prospect of cooperation on technology, without specifically pledging help with a civilian nuclear energy program, the sources said.
"Washington did not consider it very helpful at all. They were worried it ran the risk of splitting Europe and America on this issue, and they talked to their friends and colleagues in Europe about that and attempted to dissuade them from sending the letter," a diplomat familiar with the exchanges said.
European diplomats said they were disappointed there had not been a more specific reply from Tehran so far.
On August 18, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami wrote a general letter to European leaders, including EU president Italy, pledging that Iran would never divert its civilian nuclear program for military purposes and had decided to enter immediate talks on the so-called additional protocol.
But that message, seen by Reuters, did not commit Iran to sign or ratify the protocol, and European diplomats question whether Khatami, locked in a power struggle with hardline clerics, has effective control over the nuclear program.
Since the Europeans' letter was sent, growing attention at the International Atomic Energy Agency has focused on the need to know more about Iran's past nuclear activities as well as to enforce intrusive spot checks in future, diplomats said.
The governing board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, in a vote that united Americans and Europeans, gave Tehran an ultimatum last week to prove by October 31 it has no secret weapons program or be reported to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
But a diplomat from one of the European states stressed that the joint British, French and German initiative remained valid.
"The offer still stands," he said. http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=3473943
Bremer: Iran works to destabilize Iraq
The top US official in Iraq warned in an interview on Friday that Iran should halt what he termed as its "plots to destabilize" the country.
Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority and effectively Iraq's civilian ruler, said that Tehran, which has been watching the American occupation of its neighbour with mounting concerns, "continues to meddle in various ways in Iraq's internal affairs".
In his interview with The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Bremer claimed that Iranian intelligence agents were working to destabilize the reconstruction process. According to him, their activities included "support for various people, some of whom have taken violent action against both Iraqis and against the coalition."
Asked whether Iranians were suspected of possible involvement in shooting and bomb attacks against US forces, he replied: "There's certainly some indication of that, yes." (Albawaba.com) http://www.albawaba.com/news/index.php3?sid=259010&lang=e&dir=news