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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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Europeans Consider High-Tech Nuclear Offer to Iran


16 May 2006

Diplomats say British, French and German envoys are considering a proposal that offers Iran a light-water nuclear reactor, as part of a deal aimed at persuading Tehran to end its nuclear fuel program.

Under the deal, Russia would enrich uranium for Iran to ensure foreign oversight of the key process. Refined uranium can power nuclear reactors, or an atomic bomb when refined to a high grade.

Experts say a light-water reactor is less likely to be misused for nuclear proliferation, a key fear of the United States and other Western governments pressuring Iran to end its nuclear program.

Iran has said for months it will reject any European deal that demands an end to what it calls its pursuit of peaceful nuclear technology.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana says an incentives package would be difficult for Iran to refuse, if what it really wants is energy.

News of the reactor proposal comes as the Europeans meet to consider incentives aimed at resolving the standoff. The Europeans say they want to offer an incentives plan to the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

Earlier Tuesday, China said it welcomes the EU incentives push. However, Chinese and Russian envoys say they will veto any Security Council proposal that threatens sanctions or military action against Tehran for refusing to stop its ongoing uranium enrichment activities.

Western powers suspect Iran is using its nuclear research as a cover for developing an atomic bomb, a charge Tehran denies.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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