The London Financial Times reports that, according to “unnamed diplomats and a Kerry adviser,” top EU officials from Germany and the Netherlands are lobbying the Bush Administration to adopt John Kerry’s position on Iran and its nuclear program. High-level meetings were held with both the White House and the Kerry campaign last week.
The European proposal offers Iran a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel for its civilian reactors with all waste products to be returned and closely monitored. Iran would pledge to end development of its own enrichment plants that could be used to make nuclear weapons.
According to the report, White House officials were skeptical, but did not reject the European initiative out-of-hand.
During the debate with President Bush Thursday, Kerry remarked that the U.S. should have given Iran the nuclear fuel it wanted.
“I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes,” Kerry said. “If they weren’t willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together.”
“Kerry and the European positions are close in a number of ways,” Robert Einhorn of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Financial Times.
Indeed, one diplomat echoed Kerry’s prescription of ‘diplomacy’ when he told the Financial Times, “The European message was that we cannot let weeks pass before the next deadline without doing something. We need a last-ditch approach, not more pressure, but a mix with a package and incentives.”
The dependence of Kerry’s plan on the Europeans was made clear by running mate, John Edwards, to the Washington Post last month. “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.”
Kerry first proposed providing nuclear fuel to Iran – the path preferred by many Europeans – in a June speech. His position is reiterated on his campaign website. According to Edwards, Kerry would do more than simply push the Europeans to “take rewards away” if the Iranians cheated. “At the end of the day, we have to have some serious negotiating leverage in this discussion with the Iranians,” he said.
Time to employ “serious negotiating leverage” may be running out. Senior Iranian officials have told the Financial Times that the ‘grand bargain’ offered by the Europeans and championed by Kerry is not acceptable.
And, as WorldNetDaily has reported, top Iranian officials are calling for the development of nuclear weapons within the next four months.
Diplomatic sources told the Financial Times they believe negotiations still show promise “with more flexibility from the U.S.”