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Nuclear Energy For Iranians

At a press briefing in Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack emphasized that the U.S. has no problem with Iran's possessing peaceful nuclear energy. The United States and its P5+1 partners – the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany – want the Iranian government to accept the P5+1 incentives package offered to Iran.

The package contains everything Iran needs to pursue a modern civil nuclear power program, such as economic, educational, and scientific assistance, and international education exchanges for the Iranian people. This package and an offer of wide-ranging negotiations were contingent upon Iran complying with UN Security Council demands to suspend its proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities.

As part of an ongoing effort to prevent Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, the P5+1 offered Iran a refreshed incentives package in June 2008. Iran has not provided a clear, positive response to the package of incentives, but the offer remains on the table.

Mr. McCormack added that the U.S. and other nations have also encouraged Iran to consider the so-called "Bushehr model," as a way for Iran to enjoy the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy. Since 1995, Russia has been building a nuclear power plant near the town of Bushehr in southern Iran, and has been supplying Iran with fuel for the plant. Once the plant becomes operational, which Iran claims will occur early in 2009, Russia and Iran have agreed that Russia will take back the spent fuel. Mr. McCormack says that "the key to that particular model is the fuel take-back provision."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently expressed the hope that, in the face of its deepening economic problems, the Iranian government might "be amenable ... soon to ... a negotiated strategy to allow Iran civil nuclear power, but not the fuel cycle that leads to a nuclear weapon."