EU to offer Iran 'bold' nuclear solution

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The Independent Online

The EU yesterday promised to make Iran a "bold" offer of nuclear, economic and possibly security guarantees, if it agrees to bow to UN pressure and halt uranium enrichment on its soil.

The European foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said Tehran could be helped with "the best and most sophisticated technology" under a deal to be presented at the end of the month.

The offer, which was not spelled out in detail, will go beyond the package of technological, economic and political measures rejected by Tehran last August.

"It will be a generous package, a bold package that will contain issues related to nuclear, economic matters and maybe if necessary security matters," Mr Solana said yesterday.

Ursula Plassnik, Foreign Minister of Austria, which holds the EU presidency, added that the bloc is working on a "proliferation-proof" civilian nuclear package which would contain economic assistance, political co-operation and backing for a civilian nuclear power programme. The EU insisted that, as a prerequisite for any incentive, Iran would have to agree to "suspend all enrichment related and reprocessing activity, including research and development". Despite efforts to increase the size of the carrot on offer to Iran - which faces the possibility of sanctions if it refuses - there was little sign of a softening from Tehran, which has demanded direct talks with the US.

The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has ruled out any such trade-off, a message repeated yesterday by his Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki: "Any demand for a suspension or pause [of uranium enrichment] is an illogical and unacceptable demand and undoubtedly will be rejected." The German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said: "I am optimistic that there are still enough sensible people to respond positively to the offer and not in the same way as Ahmadinejad."

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