Iran says its nuclear program is unchanged

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki wrote a response to the incentives proposal.
Image: Monika Flueckiger.

Iran said today that the policies regarding its nuclear program have not changed, despite a proposal made by world powers last month that the country suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for economic and political incentives.

Government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham delivered the remarks. "Iran's stand regarding its peaceful nuclear program has not changed. Iran insists on negotiations while respecting its rights and avoiding any loss of international rights," Elham said. He indicated that Iran "will continue with the path determined by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei."

His statement came a day after Iran officially responded to the incentives package, which was offered by the foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, France, and Germany, as well as European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. They had called for formal negotiations to be held "as soon as Iran's enrichment-related and reprocessing activities are suspended."

The proposal also included a preliminary negotiations phase, in which the world powers would not pursue any further sanctions against Iran if the nation does not manufacture or install uranium-enriching centrifuges for six weeks.

Iran's response, a letter written by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, has not been made public. However, officials involved in the diplomacy have discussed some of its contents. They say the letter failed to address their proposal, and that it criticized the way diplomacy has been conducted, including the sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. "The time for negotiating from the condescending position of inequality has come to an end," the letter said, according to the anonymous officials.

Nevertheless, the letter says Iran is willing to begin negotiating with Javier Solana and the other countries who made the offer. Solana is also willing to negotiate, according to his spokesman, Cristina Gallach. She said Iranian security chief Saeed Jalili had requested a meeting in a telephone call. "One of the things to decide is to meet Jalili, and if so when," Gallach said.