Iran Says Will Offer Nuke Package Changes
Ali Akbar Dareini, The Washington Post:
Iran's foreign minister said Saturday the government likely would suggest amendments to a Western package of incentives meant to persuade the Islamic republic to give up its uranium enrichment program.
Manouchehr Mottaki would not give any timing for Iran's response. The Tehran regime previously has said some parts of the package were acceptable while others needed to be changed, and the central issue of uranium enrichment needed clarification. READ MORE
"It is a step forward," he said.
Mottaki said Iran would come up with its own amendments to the package.
"In the end, we will present our proposals. It's a two-way street," he told reporters at a joint news conference with Iraqi politician Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who heads that country's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Mottaki's remarks echoed comments made Friday by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"Generally speaking, we're regarding this offer as a step forward and I have instructed my colleagues to carefully consider it," Ahmadinejad said after meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao in Shanghai.
Iran denies accusations by the United States and others that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, saying its program would only generate energy.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana presented the package of perks and possible penalties, drawn up by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, to Tehran on June 6. It includes promises that the United States and Europe would provide nuclear technology and that Washington would join direct talks with Iran.
Crucially, the package calls on Iran to suspend, not permanently halt, uranium enrichment, a process that can make nuclear fuel for a power plant or fissile material for an atomic bomb.
But Iran has said it will not give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel, though it has indicated it may temporarily suspend enrichment to ease tensions.
The United States and Europe support Security Council sanctions if Iran refuses to accept the package.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in remarks published Saturday that Iran's consideration of the package was a positive sign, although the international community was still waiting for a "solid answer."
"So far, we have no solid signal, no real reaction," Steinmeier was quoted as telling the weekly Der Spiegel.