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    Talks format on Iran issue must be broadened - security expert

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    MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti, Denis Malkov) - The talks format on the Iran nuclear issue needs to be expanded, bringing the United States, Russia, and China to the negotiating table, a Russian security specialist said Thursday.

    Vladimir Yevseyev, a specialist at the International Security Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the existing format of Iran plus the European Union trio of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, needed to be broadened.

    "The countries that are now attempting to resolve this problem have reached a dead-end, they cannot offer Iran what it is actually in serious need of, and cannot help it resolve its security problem," Yevseyev said.

    According to the expert, Iran is not concerned about guarantees of uninterrupted supplies of nuclear fuel, but its own security. Tehran will make substantial compromises in its nuclear program if it is given security guarantees, i.e. that the country will not be attacked. This guarantee should come first and foremost from the U.S., he said.

    There are currently 140,000 U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq and both President George Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have refused to rule out the use of force against Iran, which they have said must be prevented from developing nuclear weapons.

    "In the event of possible use of force, only two states could take part in an attack on Iran - the U.S. and Israel - and even Israel would not attack Iran alone, without agreeing its position with the U.S.," Yevseyev said.

    Iran's controversial Natanz nuclear research facilities are located about 1,700 kilometers (1,000 miles) from the border with Israel, which has a fleet of F-15I warplanes that can fly about 4,500km without refueling. The country destroyed suspected nuclear facilities in Iraq in an air strike in 1981.

    According to Yevseyev, if the U.S. gives a guarantee on the matter, then expanding the talks' format will be possible. Russia and China may have substantial economic and political interests in maintaining partner relations with the Islamic Republic, but the talks would be pointless without an eighth participant, the U.S., he said.

    "Unfortunately, the U.S. still does not want to seriously consider this problem, and is taking a passive position."

    Some members of the U.S. administration support the policy on Iran employed under President Bill Clinton, of looking for a rapprochement, whereas others see the use of force as the best solution, he said.

    "As a result, the current position in Washington is that of a bad policeman - 'reach agreement, and if that doesn't work out, we'll interfere'," he expert said. "This is an unconstructive position, as a great deal depends on it [the U.S.]."

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