Monday, August 30, 2004

Kerry camp sets out nuclear deal for Iran - World - www.smh.com.au

Kerry camp sets out nuclear deal for Iran - World - www.smh.com.au: "Kerry camp sets out nuclear deal for Iran
By Glenn Kessler and Robin Wright
August 31, 2004

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A John Kerry administration would propose to Iran that it be allowed to keep its nuclear power plants in exchange for giving up the right to retain the nuclear fuel that could be used for bomb-making, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, John Edwards, has said.

Senator Edwards said that if Iran failed to take what he called a "great bargain", it would essentially confirm that it is building nuclear weapons under the cover of a supposedly peaceful nuclear power program.

He said that, if elected, John Kerry would ensure European allies were prepared to join the US in levying heavy sanctions if Iran rejected the proposal.

"If we are engaging with Iranians in an effort to reach this great bargain, and if in fact this is a bluff that they are trying to develop nuclear weapons capability, then we know that our European friends will stand with us," Senator Edwards said.

The notion of proposing such a bargain with Iran, combined with Senator Kerry's statement last December that he was prepared to explore "areas of mutual interest" with Tehran, suggests Senator Kerry would take a sharply different approach with Iran than George Bush has done.

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Washington has not had diplomatic relations with Tehran since the 1979 revolution, and President Bush called Iran part of an "axis of evil" with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Earlier this month, Mr Bush said Iran "must abandon her nuclear ambitions".

Senator Edwards will deliver a speech in North Carolina today that aides said would seek to sharpen the differences with the Bush Administration on a range of foreign policy issues. Seizing on Mr Bush's statement last week that he had miscalculated the postwar conditions in Iraq, Senator Edwards will lay out a broad indictment of how he believes the Administration has miscalculated on Iraq, overseas alliances, Afghanistan and other issues.

Senator Edwards, interviewed in Washington on Sunday, said that in Afghanistan, Senator Kerry would push to expand NATO forces beyond Kabul to enhance security, and would double the $US123 million ($175 million) budgeted for 2004 to counter the drug trade in that country.

Senator Edwards also said the Democrats would be able to obtain greater NATO involvement in Iraq, even though NATO has said it will be hard to undertake a large-scale mission there until the work in Afghanistan is completed.

Senator Edwards accused the Bush Administration of abdicating responsibility for the Iranian nuclear threat to the Europeans, who have maintained relations with Tehran and have tried to broker a deal that would end its nuclear enrichment program.

"A nuclear Iran is unacceptable for so many reasons, including the possibility that it creates a gateway and the need for other countries in the region to develop nuclear capability - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, potentially others," Senator Edwards said.

Senator Kerry first outlined the idea of providing nuclear fuel to Iran in June - a proposal favoured by many Europeans - but Senator Edwards was more explicit in suggesting a Kerry administration would actively seek an agreement with the Iranians.

"At the end of the day, we have to have some serious negotiating leverage in this discussion with the Iranians," he said, noting that Senator Kerry would press the Europeans to do much more than "taking rewards away" if the Iranians fail to act."

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