Wed, Aug 11, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Iran seeks support from Europe on nuclear arms


Iran has told Europe's leading powers that it wants them to back its right to nuclear technology that can be used to make weapons. US officials said the move has dismayed the Europeans and strengthens Washington's push for UN sanctions against Tehran.

France, Germany and the UK have not formally responded to that demand and others contained in a wish list made available to The Associated Press.

But diplomats said Monday that Iran's conditions effectively stall the European attempt to persuade Tehran to give up the technology that would allow them to make nuclear arms, pushing Europe closer to the US view that it should be hauled before the UN Security Council for violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The Iranian demands, presented in the document last week to the European powers during talks in Paris, include:

A call on the EU Three to back Iran's insistence that it have access to "advanced [nuclear] technology, including those with dual use" -- a term for equipment and know-how with both peaceful and weapons applications;

A demand that they "remove impediments" -- current sanctions -- preventing Iran from having access to such technology;

An assurance that, once the European powers make such commitments, they stick to them even if faced with "legal [or] political ... limitations" -- an apparent allusion to potential Security Council sanctions on Iran;

Agreement by the EU Three to meet Iran's conventional weapons requirements;

And a commitment to push "rigorously and systematically" for a non-nuclear Middle East and to "provide security assurances" against a nuclear attack on Iran -- both allusions to Israel, which is believed to have nuclear arms and to have destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in a 1981 strike to prevent it from making atomic arms.

France, Germany and the UK last year had held out the prospect of supplying Iran with some "dual use" technology, but only in the distant future, and only if suspicions that Tehran might be seeking to make nuclear weapons were laid to rest.

With Iran still under investigation, the presentation of the wish list stunned senior French, German and British negotiators, according to an EU official familiar with the Paris meeting.

Ignoring the list, the Europeans instead urged Tehran to act on their pledge to clear up nagging suspicions about their nuclear ambitions by Sept. 13, when the International Atomic Energy Agency meets to review Iran's nuclear dossier, the official said.

In London, a Foreign Office spokesman declined comment on the negotiations with Iran beyond saying that the UK was "not prepared to stand by and watch them collect the necessary technology to make a weapon."

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