Monday, May 08, 2006

US: Iran letter may be timed for UN debate

U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte said on Monday a letter Iran sent to President George W. Bush over its nuclear ambitions may have been timed to influence a UN Security Council debate on Iran.

"Given the fact that the issue of Iran is before the United Nations at this time, certainly one of the hypotheses you'd have to examine is whether and in what way the timing of the dispatch of that letter is connected with trying in some manner to influence the debate before the Security Council," Negroponte told reporters.

Negroponte said he had not studied the letter. Other officials said the letter had not been received.

Iran said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter that contained "new ways of getting out of the current delicate situation in the world."

It would be the first publicly announced personal communication from an Iranian president to his U.S. counterpart since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

National Security Council spokesman, Frederick Jones, said the letter at this point had not been received at the White House "although we have heard that that might be forthcoming."

"The international community has made quite clear what Iran needs to do to comply with its demand and we will continue to work with members of the international community to address the issues surrounding Iran's nuclear weapons program," Jones said.

A U.S. official who asked not to be named said it appeared Iran had not yet delivered the letter to the Swiss diplomatic mission in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in Iran and would immediately pass any important communication to the United States. READ MORE