US may ease demands on Iran

April 14, 2009 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Apr 14 – The United States could be set to scrap its demand that Iran stop enriching uranium in the early stages of talks on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, local media reported Tuesday.

The New York Times said US and European diplomats have considered allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium for some period while talks get off the ground, a sharp shift in policy.

The administration of former president George W. Bush had insisted that Iran mothball its enrichment program before talks begin, amid fears that the activities may be part of a nuclear weapons program.

Tehran had rejected that proposal, arguing that it had a legitimate right to run a civil nuclear program — including the enrichment of uranium — under international law.

"We have all agreed that is simply not going to work — experience tells us the Iranians are not going to buy it," the New York paper quoted a European diplomat as saying.

If approved the shift in tactics is likely to provoke outcry in Israel, which says Iran is trying to prevaricate while it continues to build a nuclear weapon.

Enriching uranium so that it can be used for nuclear power — or building a weapon of mass destruction — lies at the heart of the controversy surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.

The so-called P5-plus-1 — the permanent five members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany — have long offered Iran trade, financial and other incentives in return for halting its uranium enrichment program.

But so far Tehran has refused, leaving diplomatic efforts deadlocked.


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