Published June 06, 2006
TEHRAN, Iran – A package of incentives presented Tuesday to Iran includes a major concession by Washington — an offer to join key European nations in providing some nuclear technology to Tehran if it stops enriching uranium, diplomats said.
The offer was part of a series of potential rewards presented to Tehran by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, according to the diplomats, who were familiar with the proposals and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were disclosing confidential details.
The incentives agreed on last week by the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — the five veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council — plus Germany, also include European offers of help in building nuclear reactors for a peaceful energy program, the diplomats said.
That European offer of light water reactors meant for civilian nuclear energy purposes was revealed last month, but there had been no suggestion the Americans would join in and also agree to help build Iran's civilian nuclear program if Tehran freezes enrichment and agrees to negotiations.
A senior Bush administration official confirmed to FOX News that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, in his presentation of the P5+1 proposal to the Iranians this morning, briefed extensively on the incentives involved but "went into a lot less detail" on the disincentives.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was possible Solana transmitted paperwork to the Iranians outlining the incentives, but certainly did not transmit any paperwork on the disincentives. The decision to convey less information about the disincentives to the Iranians was agreed upon in advance by the six powers that crafted the package.
As for the report claiming the incentives offered to Iran included the provision of some U.S. nuclear technology, the source would not confirm or deny any specific elements in the package.
Diplomats said Monday that the United States had agreed to provide Boeing aircraft parts for Iran's aging civilian fleet. Last week, Washington broke with decades of official policy of no high-level diplomatic contacts with Tehran, announcing it was ready to join in multination talks with the Islamic republic over its nuclear program.
One of the diplomats described the U.S. nuclear offer as particularly significant because it would in effect loosen a decades-long American embargo on giving Iran access to "dual use" technologies — equipment and know-how that has both civilian and military applications.
But John Wolfsthal, a nonproliferation analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said any such offer would be tied to strict monitoring conditions.
"There's no condition that underlying anything the U.S and Europeans are offering is that Iran has to be fully compliant in terms of inspectors on site, cameras and tracking equipment," Wolfsthal said. "All that is standard operating procedure with countries with light water reactors."
Both diplomats said Solana withheld the other part of the package — a series of measures meant to penalize Tehran if it does not relinquish enrichment, which can generate power but also can be used to make weapons-grade uranium for the core of nuclear warheads.
Solana "carried a message" about potential penalties but withheld the specific threats — including the possibility of U.N. sanctions — so as not to jeopardize the "positive" atmosphere, one of the diplomats said.
Those possible penalties include U.N. Security Council sanctions such as travel bans on Iranian government figures and a freeze of their foreign assets. But in a bow to Russia and China, they contain no threat of military action, diplomats have said.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declined to go into specifics of the proposal. He said diplomacy "is at a sensitive stage" and the United States wanted Iran to have a chance to review the proposal without having it discussed publicly.
He refused to offer a time frame, but said Iran's timetable to consider the package was "weeks, not months."
Iranian reaction to the rewards part of the package appeared positive. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told his Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso, that Tehran would "seriously study" the incentives.
In Tehran, chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani described the incentives presented by Solana as containing both "positive steps" and "ambiguities."
Larijani did not identify the "ambiguities," but said he had discussed them with Solana and that more talks would be required.
Solana, who met with Larijani for two hours at the Supreme National Security Council building in central Tehran, described his talks as "very useful."
Earlier, at Tehran airport, Solana said the West wanted "a new relationship" with Iran and that the package would "allow us to engage in negotiations based on trust, respect and confidence."
Later, at a news conference in Berlin, Solana declined to give details about what was in the offer, saying Iran must be given a chance to consider it.
"We have to be very cautious," said Solana. "We are in a delicate phase... Negotiations are going to be complicated."
Iran has so far vehemently rejected any halt to its enrichment program, saying it has the right to carry out the process for peaceful purposes under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
World powers are suspicious of Iran's nuclear plans because it concealed significant aspects of its program for nearly two decades. The United States and its closest Western allies accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear bombs. Iran says it is aiming strictly to generate electricity.
In past days, Iran's leadership has alternated between talking tough and signaling it is open to negotiations — perhaps an attempt to portray to the Iranian public that it is not backing down even as it considers reversing its refusal to suspend enrichment.
Iran announced on April 11 that it had enriched uranium for the first time, using 164 centrifuges. The country would need tens of thousands of centrifuges to produce adequate fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a warhead.
Iran has said it intends to move toward large-scale enrichment involving 3,000 centrifuges by late 2006 and 54,000 centrifuges later, but it has also indicated it might suspend large-scale enrichment to ease tensions.
FOX News' James Rosen and the Associated Press contributed to this report.