WASHINGTON ø Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry has
signaled a departure in U.S. policy regarding Iran's nuclear weapons
Kerry aides said that, if elected, his administration, in cooperation
with the European Union, would offer a deal to Iran
that would allow the Islamic republic to retain its nuclear facilities. In
return, Teheran would have to pledge to return all imported nuclear fuel
acquired for its reactor at Bushehr.
The Kerry position has long been recommended by State Department
circles. Current and former U.S. diplomats have warned against a U.S.
confrontation with Iran, instead proposing a so-called "grand bargain" with
Teheran that would include a removal of sanctions imposed on Iran.
Earlier this year, the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace issued a report that called on the United States, Europe
and Russia to devise "a combination of costs and incentives" to change
Iran's course. The report recommended that Iran "be guaranteed a
commercially viable supply of low-enriched uranium for its nuclear reactors
and for the removal and disposal of spent fuel," Middle East Newsline reported.
"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," Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards said.
In speeches and interviews granted this week, Edwards stressed that a Democratic presidential administration
would not ease U.S. opposition to an Iranian nuclear bomb.
"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 ø Saudi Arabia, Egypt, potentially
others," Edwards told the Washington Post.
Kerry first discussed Iran policy in a speech in June. During that
speech, he said his administration would attempt to reach an agreement
with the Iranians, a position later echoed by Edwards.
"At the end of the day [Bush officials] can argue all they want about
their policies," Edwards said. "But the test is: Have they worked? And Iran
is further along in developing a nuclear weapon than they were when George
Bush came into office."
The Bush administration has pressed the International Atomic Energy
Agency to continue with inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities.
The administration has sought to bring the Iranian nuclear issue to the
United Nations Security Council for the imposition of sanctions.
But Bush said in a television interview on Aug. 31 that he seeks a
diplomatic solution to end Iran's nuclear program.
"The military option is always the last option for a president, not the
first," Bush said.