Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Iran: Written Response To Incentives Package Later Tuesday

Dow Jones Online:
Iran said Tuesday it intends to meet a self-imposed deadline to formally respond later in the day to a Western incentives package aimed at persuading it to suspend its uranium enrichment program, state television reported.

"Iran will respond in writing today to the package of incentives proposed by the West," the station said but gave no further details. READ MORE

On Monday, Iran turned away International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from an underground site meant to shelter its uranium enrichment program from attack. Its top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared Monday that Tehran will continue to pursue its nuclear activities.

If it continues enrichment, Iran faces the possibility of economic and diplomatic sanctions under a binding resolution that the U.N. Security Council passed last month requiring Tehran to suspend all uranium enrichment related activities by Aug. 31.

Iran has rejected the resolution as "illegal," saying a compromise can only come during talks.

Meanwhile, a top Iranian nuclear official the response will provide "an exceptional opportunity" for Europe to return to the negotiating table for a compromise.

"Iran's response to the package is a comprehensive reply that can open the way for resumption of talks for a final agreement," Mohammed Saeedi, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said in comments published Tuesday.

Saeedi said the proposed packaged had "serious ambiguities" that need to be clarified in talks.

He said the package doesn't mention the part of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that affirms signatories' right to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

"One ambiguity is the deliberate failure to mention Article 4 of the NPT in the package. Instead, it has repeatedly referred to other parts of the treaty that are mainly deterrent. Why Article 4 has not been mentioned?" Saeedi asked.

Iran promised Sunday to offer a "multifaceted response" to the package of incentives, proposed in June by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.

The U.S. and some of its Western allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied the charges saying its nuclear program is merely aimed at generating electricity, not bombs.

The Islamic republic has repeatedly said it will never give up its right to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel, but has indicated it may temporarily suspend large-scale activities to ease tensions.