Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Lavrov: UN giving Iran until end of June in nuclear row

Monsters & Critics:
Iran has until the end of June to give a decisive response to new international proposals to defuse the crisis around its nuclear programme, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow Wednesday. READ MORE

The United Nations Security Council would refrain from debating the situation in the next two to three weeks to allow the negotiation process time to achieve results, the minister said.

Lavrov restated his country's opposition to the imposition of UN sanctions on Iran. Russia is a veto-holding member of the security council.

Meanwhile, negotiators should build upon a 'positive dynamic' that has appeared in the situation, he added.

The five veto-wielding members of the security council and Germany on Tuesday offered Iran an incentives package if it halts uranium enrichment and meets international demands aimed at ensuring its nuclear programme is not for building weapons.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying 'moderation and fairness' will be needed to resolve the nuclear dispute.

'If the Western proposal contained moderation and fairness, then suitable grounds would be prepared to settle the issue,' the news network Khabar quoted him as saying. He did not elaborate.

The Iranian leadership said Tuesday that the Western nuclear proposal contained positive aspects, but some ambiguities and should therefore be thoroughly evaluated before any final reply.

Iranian leaders have frequently stressed that incentives without acknowledgement of Iran's right to pursue nuclear technology, including controversial uranium enrichment, would be unacceptable.

US President George W Bush had said Tuesday that Iran's initial response to the incentives package seemed 'positive.'

His remark followed EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana presenting the proposal to Iranian officials, after which Iranian Chief Nuclear Negotiator Ali Larijani said Iran would have to review the package but that it contained positive aspects.

Bush, speaking in Laredo Texas, told reporters that the Iranian reaction 'sounds like a positive response to me. We will see if the Iranians take our offer seriously.'

The package includes sets of benefits Iran will receive if it halts uranium enrichment and comes clean with international demands aimed at ensuring its nuclear programme is not for building weapons. The proposal also outlines punitive measures that can be enacted if Iran does not comply.

The United States and its allies have refused to discuss details of the package publicly, saying that avoiding a public debate while the Iranians study the proposal was essential to the diplomatic process.

But US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed that the proposal did not contain guarantees that the United States would not use military force against Iran.