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Rice Doubts Iran Incentives Will Work

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she doubts that new international incentives can persuade Iran to halt what she believes is a drive by Tehran for nuclear weapons. Rice is in London for a ministerial-level meeting Friday of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany, called the P 5 plus one, on the Iranian nuclear issue. VOA's David Gollust reports from London.

The major powers have offered Iran a set of economic incentives, including help for a civilian nuclear power program, if it halts its ambitious uranium enrichment program, and there are calls from some members of the P 5 plus one to enhance the offer.

However, in a talk with reporters en route to London, Rice expressed skepticism that any incentives would dissuade Iran from its current course, and she urged tougher enforcement of the three U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions already in place against Iran because of its enrichment drive.

Among the P 5 plus one grouping, which has led international diplomacy on the issue, Russia and China have been prominent advocates of more incentives.

Rice said she has no objection to discussing additions to an incentive package she said is already generous. However, she said the problem is not incentives, but rather Iranian nuclear policy, which she said appears to be weapons-related, despite Tehran's professions of peaceful intent.

"I don't think the problem is the package," said Secretary Rice. "I think the problem is Iranian will. Because, if you look at everything that has been offered Iran, if indeed what they want is a civil nuclear power, they can have it. They can have it quickly. They already have the reactor. The Russians have already delivered the fuel. They could have civil nuclear power. So, I think, we continue to suspect, I continue to suspect, that this is not at all about a civil nuclear program."

Russia, with the blessing of other P 5 plus one countries, is supplying uranium fuel for Iran's soon-to-be operational nuclear power plant at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf - on condition that spent fuel is to be returned to Russia for reprocessing.

Rice said she was not accusing anyone of bad faith, but that major countries still have a long way to go toward implementing U.N. sanctions against Iran - the other side of the two-track international strategy aimed at getting Iran to stop its enrichment program.

She also said there is more that could be done outside the sanctions regime to increase economic pressure on Tehran, noting favorably recent moves by Germany to cut back export credits for trade with Iran.