- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The United States and four other veto-wielding states on the U.N. Security Council are preparing a package of incentives aimed at Iran’s newly elected parliament in hopes of ending the country’s uranium-enrichment program — the main impediment to improved ties between Iran and the West.

The proposal includes economic, technological and security benefits, spare parts for Iran’s aging fleet of Boeing aircraft and help developing a civilian nuclear energy program, U.S. and European officials said yesterday.

The effort resembles a 2006 offer that Tehran rejected, prompting a series of U.N. sanctions.

This time, officials said, they will be more specific about the timing of the incentives. They also expressed hope it will persuade new members of parliament after elections Friday.

“It’s not clear that the Iranian regime has transmitted to the Iranian people the details of the very generous and substantial offer that we made to them in 2006. In fact, it seems as though they have deliberately suppressed it,” a British official said.

“So we are very keen on finding ways to ensure that the Iranian people know what is on offer to them, which is what their regime is denying them by their intransigence,” he said.

A senior French official said the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — as well as Germany, “will try to be more precise about the timing and the advantages the Iranians could gain.”

In the 2006 proposal, the six countries offered to provide Iran with nuclear energy, including a light-water reactor, partial ownership of a Russian enrichment facility and a five-year “buffer stock” of enriched uranium stored under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

They also said that, if Iran suspended enrichment, they would support its accession to the World Trade Organization and help modernize Iran’s telecommunications infrastructure.

In addition, the Western powers plus China proposed “a new conference to promote dialogue and cooperation on regional security issues.”

The 2006 proposal marked a reversal for U.S. policy, which until then opposed all Iranian efforts to develop nuclear energy, including a nuclear power plant that Russians were building in Bushehr.

The United States also offered to sell Iran spare parts for civilian aircraft and promised to begin reversing nearly three decades of unilateral sanctions and participate in negotiations with Tehran if it halted its uranium enrichment efforts.

The Iranian government rejected the package, and the Security Council has passed three sanctions resolutions since then.

Even though most reformist candidates who advocate ties to the West were not allowed to run in Friday’s parliamentary elections, some of the new members are said to be unhappy with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The five nuclear powers plus Germany hope new lawmakers will be intrigued by the latest package of incentives.

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