Friday, July 07, 2006

Iran Won't Be Held to Deadline on Nuclear Offer, Larijani Says

Iran won't be held to a deadline over an EU package of economic and political incentives to cease enriching uranium, the country's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said. READ MORE

``We have to begin negotiations to see how fast'' issues can be resolved, Larijani said at a press conference in Madrid. ``We are seriously studying the proposal.''

Larijani described talks today and yesterday with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as very constructive. An offer of EU-led and U.S.-supported incentives aimed at breaking a deadlock over Iran's enrichment of uranium is under discussion.

Larijani said Iran's oil reserves meant that it could guarantee Europe's energy needs and reduce the volatility of crude prices. Oil rose to a record $75.78 a barrel today in New York amid concern the dispute over Iran's nuclear research will disrupt crude supplies.

``We could ensure energy security for Europe,'' he said.

In return, Iran will look for the EU to make confidence- building gestures which address restrictions on the export of technology to Iran and on Iran purchasing yellowcake uranium, Larijani said.

``We have a positive impression of the proposals,'' Larijani said. ``I see no reason to be pessimistic. We think this can be solved through dialogue.''

Nuclear Weapons

The U.S. and the U.K. are among countries that say they suspect Iran is concealing a nuclear weapons program.

The official Iranian news agency said July 5 that Larijani and his aides postponed a trip to Brussels until next week because of what the Iranians said were ``assassination'' concerns.

Larijani also said the European Union must change its attitude to Iran. While Iran has a positive view of the EU proposal, there are still many doubts over it which must be clarified in talks.

Adapting an EU plan, The United Nations Security Council's permanent members -- the U.S., China, Russia, the U.K. and France