Iranian FM: 'No chance of attack by Israel, US'

Mottaki rejects sanctions to stop Teheran's uranium enrichment; says Mofaz threat "not serious."

Mottaki 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Mottaki 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Wednesday rejected sanctions as an effective means to dissuade Teheran from pursuing its uranium enrichment program and dismissed threats of military strikes. "We don't think there is any chance of a military strike" either from the US or Israel, Mottaki said. A threat made last week by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz is "not serious," Mottaki told reporters. And the US, mired in Iraq, does not have the capacity, he suggested. "The last strikes in the region serve as an example," Mottaki said, apparently referring to US action in Iraq. Mottaki spoke to reporters as US President George W. Bush said Wednesday in Germany that he prefers a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff, but that "all options are on the table." Earlier this month, Mofaz had said that Israel will have "no choice" but to attack Iran if it does not halt its nuclear program. A spokeswoman for Mofaz later said he was not expressing the government's position. Mottaki said that Teheran has offered "very important" proposals in an effort to resolve the crisis over its nuclear program. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will travel to Teheran on Saturday to present a package of incentives in the name of the US, Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China. The countries are seeking new means to lure Iran into shutting down its uranium enrichment program, suspecting it will be used to make nuclear weapons. Three sets of UN sanctions have failed to bring change. Iran continues to insist that its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian use only. "Our nuclear activities are following their normal course," said Mottaki, in Paris for an Afghanistan donor conference Thursday. Mottaki said that Iran has yet to learn what is in the package to be presented by Solana. However, he also stressed what he said were the "very important" proposals and "very interesting elements for a dialogue" in a package offered by Tehran and made available to the countries concerned weeks ago. Solana received a copy. "We have said that we are ready for a constructive attitude," the Iranian minister said. He suggested that a blend of the two sets of proposals might yield a solution. "Maybe in 'package 1' of proposals and 'package 2' of proposals, we can arrive at a mix," he said without providing details of what he called a "global" proposal. A copy of an Iranian offer for international talks obtained by The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria, covers a range of topics but fails to address the key issue - UN Security Council calls for Iran to end enrichment of uranium. Iran's proposal "is different because it also takes into account the different crises in the region," Mottaki said. It encompasses economic, security and even cultural points, the nuclear issue "and even nuclear arms" as well as international cooperation, he said. According to the copy, the Iranian offer proposes discussions on political, security, economic and nuclear issues in "the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa and Latin America" and links the creation of a Palestinian state to talks. With the situation deadlocked, Washington would like to see sanctions further strengthened. However, Mottaki dismissed sanctions as a thing of the past. "Today, we are in a post-sanctions period," he said. The minister dismissed the US president's calls for tough action against Iran if the latest diplomatic bid fails. "This is Bush's last trip to Europe, a goodbye party, so you can't take what he says seriously," Mottaki said.