Nations pressing Iran over its nuclear plans

U.S., allies to propose international control

June 30, 2006|By JAMES GERSTENZANG AND DAVID HOLLEY | JAMES GERSTENZANG AND DAVID HOLLEY,LOS ANGELES TIMES

MOSCOW -- The United States, Russia and other key industrialized countries yesterday increased the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, declaring that Tehran's intentions will be judged based on its response next week to a proposal intended to put the effort under international control.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, is scheduled to meet Wednesday with Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, and senior diplomats from Russia, Britain, France and Germany, to discuss the offer.

"We expect to hear a clear and substantive Iranian response to these proposals" at the meeting, foreign ministers from the Group of 8 industrial nations said in a statement issued after their meeting here.

Seeking to keep up pressure on Iran to deliver a serious response rather than one that stalls for additional time, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - and Germany agreed to gather a week after the Wednesday meeting to assess the Iranian position.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the foreign ministers of the other five nations will meet, most likely in Paris, on July 12. That session would occur just three days before a summit of President Bush and other leaders from the Group of 8 in Russia, at which Iran's nuclear program is expected to be the central topic.

Those two meetings could produce an initial determination of whether Iran was moving toward cooperation or defiance, even if Tehran tries to avoid giving a formal answer.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki swiftly rejected the demand to respond by July 5, telling reporters at the United Nations that the talks with Solana needed to address questions about the proposal.

Bush had earlier set an informal deadline, calling for Iran to respond within "weeks, not months," to the package of incentives.

Full details of the proposal have not been released, but among the incentives offered is a guarantee that the United States would facilitate a European offer to provide Iran with a light-water reactor and other civilian nuclear technology. Much of the light-water nuclear technology originates in the United States, and without American government approval, the Europeans could not provide it to Iran.

The offer is intended to lead Iran back from what Washington believes is a program intended to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran argues that its program is intended only to develop nuclear energy.

James Gerstenzang and David Holley write for the Los Angeles Times.

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