Tue, Dec 09, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Iran tells Obama to drop ‘carrot and stick’

NUCLEAR DILEMMA Tehran will never halt its nuclear work and expects the US to change its ‘failed’ approach to solving the atomic row, Iran’s foreign ministry said

AGENCIES , TEHRAN

Iran yesterday told US president-elect Barack Obama to abandon a “carrot and stick” approach to Tehran’s nuclear drive and to interact with the Islamic republic when he takes office next month.

In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Obama vowed “tough but direct diplomacy” with Iran, offering incentives along with the threat of tougher sanctions over its atomic program.

Speaking on Sunday, Obama told a US broadcaster: “We are willing to talk to them directly and give them a clear choice and ultimately let them make a determination in terms of whether they want to do this the hard way or the easy way.”

“The carrot-and-stick approach has proven to be useless,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said. “It is an unacceptable and virtually failed policy.”

“When they stick to their past view regarding suspending uranium enrichment, our answer will be: Iran will never suspend uranium enrichment,” Ghashghavi told reporters.

The UN Security Council has repeatedly demanded that Iran freeze its uranium enrichment work, the process which makes nuclear fuel as well as the fissile core of an atom bomb.

The US says Iran is bent on developing an atomic bomb but Tehran insists its program is solely for civilian energy purposes, and has continued to enrich uranium in defiance of UN sanctions.

Ghashghavi said if the new US administration was to repeat calls for Iran to halt enrichment, “our position is that we will not suspend.”

“When he talks about change and he says ‘we can,’ he is expected to change [US President George W.] Bush’s confrontational strategy with interaction,” he said, adding that Iran would wait to see how Obama acts when he takes office.

Washington, which cut ties with Tehran after the 1979 revolution that ousted the US-backed shah, has been pushing hard to isolate Iran over its nuclear plans.

Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, insists it wants to master nuclear technology to generate electricity so it can save more of its oil and gas reserves for exports.

Enrichment is the part of Iran’s program that most worries the West because, if uranium is enriched much more, it can make warhead material as well as being used to make fuel for power plants.

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