Saturday, June 10, 2006

Iran Says May Deliver Own Atomic Incentives Package

Christian Oliver, Reuters:
Iran may send its own nuclear package in response to proposed incentives agreed by six world powers that seek to persuade Tehran to stop its atomic fuel work, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Saturday. Mottaki did not specify what changes to the package Iran might seek, but Tehran has repeatedly rejected the crux of the proposal -- that it should give up enriching uranium.

"We hope that shuttle diplomacy will lead to a genuine proposal from the Islamic Republic that could possibly be sent to European counterparts as an amendment or a counter-package and that will be assessed carefully by the Europeans," Mottaki was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. READ MORE

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has complained about the incentives' "ambiguities."

Iran has been referred to the UN Security Council where it could face sanctions, after failing to convince the international community that its atomic scientists are seeking to build power stations, not weapons.

The United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China have agreed a set of incentives for Iran on the condition that it stops making nuclear fuel, something Tehran has said it will never do.

Among the incentives, which Western diplomats say include offers of a light-water reactor and a facility for storing atomic fuel, is a U.S. offer to join the European Union's direct talks with Iran.

Analysts see the proposals as a way of giving Iran a last chance before Western powers lobby for tough action against Iran at the UN Security Council.

President Bush on Friday said Iran had "weeks not months" to respond to the proposals and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel has said Iran has until next month's Group of Eight (G8) summit to consider the offer.

But Mottaki told the Mehr news agency: "We have not defined a deadline for assessing the proposal."

Although Mottaki's remarks on a counter-offer are an indication of Iranian dissatisfaction with the deal, the last word on nuclear matters does not lie with the foreign ministry.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has entrusted nuclear matters to the Supreme National Security Council and appointed Larijani as chief negotiator.

Larijani arrived in Egypt on Saturday to hold atomic talks with Egypt's foreign minister and meet Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. Iran has long been striving to try to persuade nervous Arab neighbors that its ambitions are peaceful.