Sunday, May 21, 2006

Iran: security pledges can't solve atomic dispute

Iran said on Sunday it had little faith in security guarantees from the West as a means to resolve a dispute over its atomic programme, further dousing hopes that EU incentives could stop Tehran making nuclear fuel.

Britain, Germany and France, the so-called EU3, are trying to put together a generous package that could offer a nuclear reactor and security guarantees to Tehran. But their gambit seems doomed with both Iran and Washington unimpressed by the terms.

Washington is loathe to exempt EU firms from U.S. sanctions if they get involved with Iran's nuclear work and even more wary about any form of security pledge to a country that has threatened to "wipe Israel off the map".

Tehran says there are no incentives that could persuade it to halt its uranium enrichment work. That would be the only step that could convince the West that Iran is not building a bomb.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said it was of little consequence that the United States would not offer security guarantees, as such a feature in the final EU package could not be trusted.

"Firstly, they have not kept their promises and made good on obligations to different countries including Iran in the past so no one should think that such security guarantees are important," he told a news conference.

"America itself needs security guarantees because it has many problems and is not in a position to give security guarantees to other countries," he added. READ MORE

Iran often boasts of its invincibility, saying its nuclear facilities are safe from attack while U.S. troops are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran's nuclear dossier currently lies with the U.N. Security Council which has the power to impose sanctions if it rules that Tehran is not providing sufficient proof of peaceful intentions.