EU offers reactors, fuel in draft Iran nuclear proposal

The European Union is ready to help Iran build several light-water nuclear reactors and set up a nuclear fuel bank if Tehran stops enriching uranium, according to a copy of a draft proposal seen by Agence France-Presse on Friday.

Russia would enrich uranium for Iran in a partnership.

The proposal by Britain, France and Germany also says the West is ready to help work toward guarantees on “territorial integrity and political sovereignty” for states in the Gulf region and support the goal of “a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery in the Middle East”.

But the four-page text also lists 15 targeted sanctions for the United Nations Security Council to choose from if Iran does not comply.

The so-called EU-3 are preparing the package of trade, technology and security benefits in return for Iran guaranteeing that it will not make nuclear weapons, in an attempt to defuse an international showdown that threatens to escalate.

The United States, which charges that Iran is using a civilian nuclear programme to hide the development of atomic weapons, backs the text “on certain conditions”, a Western diplomat said.

A senior European diplomat noted that the text “talks about security but the word ‘security guarantees’ does not figure,” as Washington is against giving Iran assurances that it will not be attacked.

The diplomat said the United States needed to join any future negotiations with Iran, something it now refuses to do, as this would be the only way to convince Tehran that it will get benefits.

For instance, European companies that make light water reactors, judged to be non-proliferation risks, would not deal with Iran without a green light from Washington, as they have large business dealings with the United States.

The West is also ready to offer support for a trade and energy agreement for Iran with the European Union and lifting restrictions against “Iran purchasing a new fleet of modern civil airliners”.

The package is to be discussed by the EU-3, plus China, Russia and the United States in London next Wednesday.

Diplomats are pessimistic about finding a deal which would be acceptable to Iran, since Tehran has already rejected any halt in uranium enrichment, which makes fuel for nuclear power reactors but also atom bomb material.

Iranian allies and major trading parners, Russian and China “are likely to press for changes in the text,” the Western diplomat said, particularly as they fear sanctions could be a step towards military action against Iran.

The draft text says that “in the event that Iran does not cooperate with the international community, we would adopt proportionate measures” and “where appropriate these measures would be adopted under Chapter VII, Article 41 of the UN Charter”.

This article mandates measures to enforce Security Council decisions but does not include the use of armed force.

Diplomats said this was a compromise gesture to Russia and China as it would make compliance a legal obligation but avoid opening the door to war.

The sanctions listed fall short of a total economic embargo, something the United States does not want since it seeks to target the Iranian leadership rather than the Iranian people.

The text lists six sanctions described as “measures targeted against Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes,” including an “embargo on export of goods and technologies” relevant to those programmes.

There are also nine “political and economic measures” that include a “freeze of assets of individuals and organisations connected to or close to the regime”.

The draft, titled “possible elements of a revised proposal to Iran”, affirms “Iran’s inalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.

But it says that Iran must cooperate fully with inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency and “suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and to continue this” during negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme.

The Security Council on March 29 had asked Iran to honor IAEA calls for it to suspend its enrichment work and also to cooperate fully with an IAEA investigation, ongoing for three years, which has so far been unable to determine whether the Iranian nuclear programme is peaceful or weapons-related. ‒ Sapa-AFP

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