Iran demands patience for incentives package response

"The package contains legal, political and economic dimensions...we recommend that accuracy should not be sacrificed for the sake of speed."

iran asefi 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
iran asefi 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran said it was seriously considering incentives to halt its nuclear program and that the United States and other nations should be patient about getting a response. Meanwhile, Teheran's top nuclear negotiator suggested that Turkey could be a "good bridge" to resolve differences between Iran and the West. But Iran's oil minister warned again Sunday that his petroleum-rich country could disrupt the world's supply if the standoff led to open conflict.
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"If the country's interests are attacked, we will use oil as a weapon," state television quoted Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh as saying. That would drive oil prices above $100 a barrel, he said. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters Sunday that specialized committees in key state agencies were studying the nuclear incentives offered June 6 by the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany. "The package contains legal, political and economic dimensions. All its dimensions have to be studied," Asefi said. "We recommend to Europeans that accuracy should not be sacrificed for the sake of speed." Asefi said the package required careful study before Tehran delivered its formal response. "The reason that there can't be a speedy response is that we have to hold serious discussions on the contents," he told a press conference. "We are taking it seriously." President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran would take until mid-August to respond to the incentives package, prompting U.S. President George W. Bush to accuse Teheran of dragging its feet. After meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in Tehran on Sunday, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, suggested Turkey play a mediating role in the nuclear standoff. "Deliberations with friends helps this path, especially friends that are close to both parties," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Larijani as saying. "Turkey is interested in seeing the Iranian nuclear issue resolved through diplomatic means," Turkish state television quoted Gul as saying. His trip to Teheran came ahead of his visit to the US early next month. "These negotiations and deliberations can be a good bridge to resolve this dossier," IRNA quoted Larijani as saying. Although details have not been made public, diplomats familiar with the West's offer to Iran have said it includes economic incentives and a provision for the United States to offer Iran some nuclear technology, lift some sanctions and join direct negotiations. The proposal calls for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce peaceful reactor fuel or fissile bomb material, during negotiations. It calls for a long-term moratorium on enrichment until the international community is convinced that Tehran's nuclear aims are peaceful. Iran says it only wants to generate nuclear energy. Iran has said it will not give up enrichment but indicated it may temporarily suspend large-scale activities to ease tensions. Asefi said dialogue was the only way to deal with Iran's nuclear program, but he rejected the precondition that Iran halt enrichment before talks start. "We think dialogue is the only way. Setting preconditions doesn't help at all ... It's not logical," Asefi said. Germany and Iran's foreign ministers said Saturday that they agreed that Iran would meet again with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana to go over the incentive offer. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he expected the first meeting "in the next week." Iran is the world's fourth-largest oil exporter and the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The Islamic republic exports about 2.5 million barrels a day. This was the second time in a month that Iran threatened to disrupt the world's oil supply if Tehran is punished over its nuclear program. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also said the United States and its allies would be unable to secure oil shipments passing out of the Persian Gulf through the strategic Strait of Hormuz to the world markets.