US 'not offering Iran guarantees',00.html

From correspondents in Washington

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today the United States is not offering security guarantees to Iran in a bid to end the dispute over its nuclear program.

"Security assurances are not on the table," Ms Rice told the Fox News Sunday television program.

"It's obvious that in addition to the nuclear issue, we have other issues with Iran. We have a state in Iran that is devoted to the destruction of Israel. We have a state in Iran that meddles in the peace process" in the Middle East.

Media reports have said that Britain, France and Germany, which are leading international talks with Iran, had asked Washington to provide guarantees that no threat would be made to the Iranian government.

But Ms Rice strongly denied that the European trio had asked for such guarantees.

"First of all, let me just set the record straight. We haven't been asked to provide security assurances to Iran.

"What we're talking about is a package that will make clear to Iran that there are choices to be made, either that there will be sanctions and actions taken against Iran by the international community, or there's a way for them to meet their civil nuclear concerns."

She said: "You can't take this question out of the context of what Iran is doing in the international system. Iran is a troublemaker in the international system, a central banker of terrorism. Security assurances are not on the table."

Britain, France and Germany are preparing a package of trade, technology and security benefits if Tehran stops enriching uranium, a process which creates fuel for power plants but can also form the core of a nuclear bomb.

A draft proposal by the trio said world powers should support Iran's building of light water reactors for power generation and should also set up a nuclear fuel bank that would guarantee access to reactor fuel but not the sensitive fuel cycle technology.

But Iran vowed again today it will not suspend uranium enrichment.

The United States has been pressing for a UN Security Council resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which would allow for sanctions, and could eventually permit military action.

"We would like to show Iran's government and its people that it is possible to have a way out of this crisis, a way out that preserves Iran's ability to have civil nuclear power," said Ms Rice.

She said Washington and its European allies wanted "to show them (Iran) a path into the international community of states and back into good standing".

"If they won't take it, then we'll have to take the other course."