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Iran offered nuke deal to end Iraq attacks: BBC

Official says Iran privately admitted supporting Iraq insurgency

Published:

Iran offered to stop attacking troops in Iraq if the West dropped opposition to its nuclear program, a top British official said in comments to be broadcast Saturday.

Sir John Sawers, Britain's current ambassador to the United Nations, told the BBC that Iranian officials had privately admitted their role in supporting insurgents' roadside bomb attacks on British and U.S. troops.

But the proposed deal, floated in teatime meetings at London hotels, was rejected by the British government.

It was not clear exactly when the deal was suggested, according to pre-released extracts of the interview, which will appear in a documentary later Saturday.

"The Iranians wanted to be able to strike a deal whereby they stopped killing our forces in Iraq in return for them being allowed to carry on with their nuclear program," Sawers told the BBC.

He paraphrased the terms of the proposed deal as: "'We stop killing you in Iraq, stop undermining the political process there, you allow us to carry on with our nuclear program without let or hindrance'."

It was proposed in a series of meetings between Iranian and European officials, he added.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi was quoted by the Mehr news agency as saying in response that the country's authorities "have many times stressed that Iran has no role in attacks on American and British troops."

"The Islamic Republic of Iran from the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has played a role for the return of peace, stability and calm in these countries," he said.

The Islamic Republic of Iran from the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has played a role for the return of peace, stability and calm in these countries

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ghashghavi

Several revelations

The revelation is one of several in the documentary about backroom talks between the West and Iran since 2001.

Quoting Iranian and American officials, the program also says Tehran cooperated closely with the United States to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, even providing intelligence information to help with bombing raids.

Iran's then president Mohammad Khatami was reportedly willing to help get rid of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, saying he was also Iran's enemy.

But relations reportedly soured when Bush labeled Iran part of the "axis of evil" in 2002.

The former third-highest ranking official at the U.S. State Department, Nicholas Burns, told the documentary: "We had a very threatening posture towards Iran for a number of years. It didn't produce any movement whatsoever."

US alarmed by IAEA report

On Friday, Washington expressed alarm over new evidence that Iran understated how much uranium it had enriched, calling Tehran's nuclear program an "urgent problem" the international community must address.

A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency this week said Iran had built up a stockpile of nuclear fuel. Diplomats said Iran had underreported by a third how much uranium it had enriched but that the IAEA believed the discrepancy was a technical mistake rather than subterfuge.

"The report represents another lost opportunity for Iran as it continues to renege on its international obligations," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, echoing earlier comments by the U.S. State Department.

The United States suspects Iran of trying to use its nuclear program to build an atomic bomb, but Tehran insists it is purely for the peaceful generation of electricity. Enriched uranium can be used to make nuclear weapons.

Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the report left no doubt about Iran's continued pursuit of its nuclear program, and Washington would use "enhanced pressures" and possibly "direct engagement" to convince it to change course.

The report represents another lost opportunity for Iran as it continues to renege on its international obligations

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs