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U.S. eyes nuclear co-op with Mideast countries
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10:27, December 13, 2008

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The United States expressed on Friday its support for the countries in the Middle East to peaceful use of nuclear energy, but warned Iran of paying higher price for its nuclear program.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed that the Bush administration has been working with the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries.

"We have engaged the UAE on this topic, because we think it is an important way for countries in the region to potentially realize peaceful uses of nuclear energy and clearly prescribing the limits of the use of nuclear technology," said McCormack.

Earlier on Friday, the Wall Street Journal quoted a senior U.S. official as saying that the administration plans to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with the UAE, and that "This is a real counterexample to what Iran is doing."

It is expected to be first nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and a Middle East country, according to the report, the administration also seeks to sign similar pacts with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Bahrain.

The pacts require the United States to share nuclear fuels, technologies and know-how on the condition that the countries commit to abiding by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards.

"It is good things to have states agree, in a formal sense, to two things: one, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and then, on the other hand, prescriptions on how technology is used," said McCormack, adding "It certainly stands in contradistinction to the actions of Iran."

"They have not taken up the opportunities of a positive pathway," said McCormack, referring Tehran dismissed a package of incentives proposed by six major powers, namely the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

The proposal suggests that Iran get a temporary reprieve from economic and financial sanctions in exchange for freezing its enrichment activities, which has been viewed as a key step to develop nuclear weapons.

"Therefore the disincentives remain in place. And I think increasingly Iran is paying a price for the fact that it is defying the Security Council, it is defying the IAEA, and in general defying the will of the international system in this regard," McCormack said.

The United States has accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. Iran has denied the U.S. charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.


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