Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What did you expect? Iran sidesteps nuclear freeze in answer on incentives

 Last update - 15:17 05/08/2008       
Iran sidesteps nuclear freeze in answer on incentives
By News Agencies
Iran's written reply to a proposal backed by six world powers aimed at defusing a row over Tehran's disputed nuclear program has been handed over to European Union officials, Iran's Fars News Agency said on Tuesday.
An Iranian official said that the letter did not mention the idea of freezing its nuclear work - a step the West demanded to avert more U.N. sanctions.
"Iran's written response to the six countries involved in the nuclear negotiations was handed to officials at the European Union by Iran's ambassador to Brussels," Fars News Agency reported, without giving any further details.
An EU source in Brussels could not confirm the report.
The six world powers had offered to refrain from steps to impose more sanctions if Iran freezes expansion of its nuclear work - an initial step in getting talks going on a broader resolution to the stand-off.
"The letter handed over is not an answer to the offered package (by world powers) ... The letter does not mention the freeze-for-freeze issue," the senior Iranian official told Reuters.
The freeze idea is aimed at getting preliminary discussions going before starting full negotiations on a package of nuclear, trade and other incentives. But those formal talks will not begin until Iran suspends uranium enrichment.
Enrichment is the part of Iran's program that most worries the West because it can have both civilian and military uses.
Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, insists it is only seeking to master technology to make electricity, and has repeatedly refused to halt its atomic work.
Washington and its Western allies said on Monday that, if Iran's response was not positive, the next step would be to expand UN sanctions. The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of penalties on Iran since 2006.
Russia and China, two members of the sextet, have been reluctant to impose sanctions in the past but have, in the end, voted for all three sanctions resolutions after initial drafts were watered down.
The others in the sextet are the United States, Britain, France and Germany.

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