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U.S. to Offer Iran Incentives to End Nuclear Weapons Pursuit

The move is part of a coordinated effort with Europe to press Iran to end nuclear activities that could lead to the creation of a nuclear weapon.

The Bush administration will make clear that it is prepared to drop objections to Iran’s eventual membership in the World Trade Organization and will lift an objection to the licensing of spare parts for Iranian commercial aircraft, she told Reuters.

The agreement came after the United States received assurances from Britain, France and Germany that they would refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council, where sanctions could be imposed if Iran refuses to end its nuclear program, according to the Associated Press.

The economic incentives mark a shift in the administration’s hard line stance that Iran deserves no reward for merely doing what an international arms compact requires.

Iran is a member of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty governing the spread of nuclear technology.

The United States accuses Iran of pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program, but Tehran insists its nuclear program is solely for civilian energy purposes.

The three European countries told European Union partners in a letter that “progress is not as fast as we would wish” in talks they began in December to persuade Tehran to end its sensitive nuclear work in return for economic and political benefits, Reuters reported.

The nations said if Iran continues its suspension of uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and cooperate with the IAEA, they would consider the matter resolved.

“If on the other hand, despite our efforts Iran does not do so, then as has been implicit in the agreements reached with Iran and well understood by all concerned, we shall have no choice but to support referring Iran’s nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council,” the letter said, according to Reuters.

The letter made no mention of imposing sanctions, however.

Iran threatened last week to resume uranium enrichment and end talks if it was taken to the Security Council.

Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, when Iranian militants occupied the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held its staff hostage.

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