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Monday, October 23, 2006

Nuclear "carrot and stick" approach doomed - Iran


TEHRAN: Iran said on Sunday the West's "carrot and stick" method for getting it to halt sensitive nuclear fuel work was doomed to failure.

Iran's case has been returned to the U.N. Security Council because the Islamic Republic failed to heed a U.N. demand to suspend uranium enrichment, a process the West believes Tehran is using to develop atomic weapons, despite Iranian denials.

The United States and European countries back U.N. sanctions, although European officials say this will be an incremental process which Iran can curtail by halting enrichment.

At the same time, the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China -- plus Germany have offered Iran trade and other incentives if it suspends enrichment as a precondition for nuclear talks.

"Our negotiating partners have always emphasised the need for talks, but they are moving in two different directions," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said.

"Iran's position is that you cannot use the policy of 'carrot and stick' at the same time because it is an incompetent policy and it will result in failure."

Hosseini said imposing sanctions would have an impact beyond the Middle East region. "But if they choose sanctions, we will make appropriate decisions in proportion with that," he said.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator has said its response could involve halting U.N. checks of its declared atomic sites.

A senior diplomat close to the U.N. watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran was likely to limit the frequency and scope of inspections to Iranian nuclear sites, but not halt them entirely, in response to an initial sanctions resolution.

"IAEA access will suffer if this resolution passes. Iran could play around withholding visas for inspectors, for example," the diplomat told Reuters in Vienna.

"But a complete shutdown of inspections is only likely with a more biting resolution like the one against North Korea," he said. Pyongyang test-detonated a nuclear device on October 9.

Hosseini said a suspension of uranium enrichment "has no place in Iran's nuclear policies. But we have said also that, if the conditions are fair, this issue could be discussed during negotiations like other issues".

Iran has said it would discuss suspension talks, rather than as a precondition for talks to start.

France, Britain and Germany are drafting a Security Council resolution on sanctions and have been discussing it with the United States, which wants tougher measures.

Russia and China, which can veto a resolution and are both major trade partners of Iran, are loath to impose penalties.

"We are witnessing a positive position by the Russians compared to some other Western countries," Hosseini said.
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