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Major Powers Make New Incentives Offer to Iran


Foreign ministers of major world powers, meeting in London, have decided to make a new offer of incentives for Iran to scrap its uranium enrichment program. The offer is part of a two-track strategy that also includes U.N. sanctions against Tehran. VOA's David Gollust reports from London.

Despite open U.S. skepticism that Iran can be persuaded to change course, the five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany have decided to enhance a benefits offer to Tehran made in 2006.

Announcement of the move followed a three-hour meeting of the so-called P5+1 at the British Foreign Ministry.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband made the announcement flanked by his colleagues including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Miliband called the Iranian enrichment program, widely believed to be weapons-related, a very serious threat to world stability. Without giving details, He said the six powers reviewed and updated the 2006 offer which will be conveyed privately to Tehran:

"We will be transmitting that offer," he said. "We won't be revealing details except to the government of Iran, and we very much hope they will recognize the seriousness and sincerity with which we have approached this issue and that they will respond in a timely manner to the suggestions we are making.

Miliband said Iran says it wants to play a constructive role, and that the six powers believe that the rights it seeks should be accompanied by a clear set of responsibilities.

It is in that spirit, he said, that this "new approach" to Iran is being made.

Iran, which says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, says it has a right to perfect enrichment and other elements of the nuclear fuel cycle.

U.S. officials have long believed that Iran's nuclear efforts are weapons related. En route to London Thursday, Secretary Rice said the problem is not the terms of the incentives package but Iranian intentions.

She said Iran could have civilian nuclear power under the existing P5-Plus-One initiative and so she continues to suspect that, as she put it, "this is not at all about a civil nuclear program."

The P5-Plus-One proposal already on the table offers Iran economic and diplomatic benefits including aid for civilian nuclear power.

The same grouping, in a two-track strategy, has spearheaded three sanctions resolutions against Iran in the U.N. Security Council, the most recent of which was approved in March.

Russia and China had resisted the latest sanctions move and are understood to have been the main proponents within the P5+1 for new incentives.

A senior U.S. official who spoke to reporters called the new incentives plan a "refreshed," rather than all-new, package that would be finalized within a week for transmittal to Tehran.

He said if Iran verifiably suspended enrichment, Secretary Rice remains ready to hold an open-ended political dialogue with her Iranian counterpart in any venue.

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