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Germany Echoes U.S. Worries on Iran

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Germany Echoes U.S. Worries on Iran

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Germany Echoes U.S. Worries on Iran

Germany Echoes U.S. Worries on Iran

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Germany joins the United States in voicing its displeasure with Iran's proposal to halt its nuclear program. Tehran has responded to a package of incentives from the United Nations, but it's unclear whether Iran will suspend uranium enrichment, a key process for making nuclear weapons. The U.N. Security Council has set an Aug. 31 deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment — or face the possibility of economic and political sanctions.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

International pressure continues to build on Iran over its nuclear program. Today Germany said Iran's offer to hold serious negotiations failed to address the key issue, a U.N. Security Council demand to suspend uranium enrichment. The U.S. is now pressing the Security Council to impose economic sanctions on Iran.

NPR's Mike Shuster reports.

MIKE SHUSTER reporting:

Iran's latest proposals on its nuclear program came in the form of a lengthy diplomatic note that was hand delivered in Tehran to the ambassadors of Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Switzerland, which represents American interests in Iran. Already the U.S. and France have said Iran's proposals are not satisfactory and today Germany weighed in with its own dissatisfaction. In a television interview Chancellor Angela Merkel said Iran had failed to focus on the key issue.

Ms. ANGELA MERKEL (Chancellor, Germany): (Speaking foreign language)

SHUSTER: According to everything I've heard, we can't be satisfied with this Merkel said, adding, it is not what we expected, which is we suspend our uranium enrichment program. The decisive sentence is missing, she said.

The proposals were Iran's first full response to a set of economic and technological incentives the six nations offered more than two months ago. Iran took a long time to reply and, as a result, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution in late July demanding that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment by August 31.

Iran has called that move illegal and it effectively ignored the issue in its latest set of proposals. Yesterday the State Department said the Iranian proposals fell short of what was needed. The foreign minister of France said today if Iran wants to help stabilize the Middle East, the moment is now or never.

But Iran is insisting its offer is serious and fair. Although the details have not yet been disclosed, Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, was quoted today as saying the Iranian proposals are positive and offer a way of solving all the issues.

One Iranian who is familiar with the thinking of leaders in Tehran is Abbas Maleki, a former Iranian deputy foreign minister now a scholar at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Maleki believes that after a long debate, moderates in Tehran are now in control of the nuclear issue. The Iranian offer, he says, opens the possibility for compromise on uranium enrichment but only if Iran's right to nuclear technology is explicitly recognized.

Mr. ABBAS MALEKI (Harvard University): Iran wants to show she has right to have peaceful nuclear energy and this is the right which the United States and unfortunately, the new resolution of the United Nations, they want to ignore this right of Iran. Iranian decision makers, they are ready to reach a compromise. At the same time, they don't want to say to the people that we ignored one of the major rights of the Iranian people.

SHUSTER: The Iranian offer of negotiations raised dozens of questions and issues related to the incentives package it received earlier this summer. Abbas Maleki says one of the key issues is security. Specifically, Iran is greatly concerned about the large number of U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan and in the Persian Gulf. Maleki says Iranian leaders would like to enter into direct talks with the U.S. about regional security.

Mr. MALEKI: Iran thinks that this is a threat against its national security, and Iran wants and Iran is eager to receive a package of security arrangements, a type of collective security arrangements in Persian Gulf. Iranians, they love to see more secure situation and environment.

SHUSTER: Privately the U.S. and some of the Europeans are reacting differently to Iran's proposals. The U.S. has already started pushing for an economic sanctions resolution to be proposed at the U.N. Security Council in early September. Among the Europeans, some see possible opportunities in the Iranian proposals that might require further diplomacy.

Mike Shuster, NPR News.

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