Iran's nuclear stance remains unchanged

Teheran indicates it won't stop enrichment despite new int'l incentives; US to consult allies.

ahmadinejad nuclear 224 (photo credit: AP [file])
ahmadinejad nuclear 224
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran's nuclear program remains unchanged, said a government spokesman Saturday, indicating that Teheran has no plans to meet the West's central demand that it stop enriching uranium. Gholam Hossein Elham's statements came just a day after Iran sent the European Union its response to an international proposal to curb its program in exchange for economic incentives. A spokeswoman for US President George W. Bush, who is en route to a G-8 summit in Japan, said: "We're going out to consult with our allies about what Iran's response means." "We'll just have to see how this is received by others before we make a formal response," White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters traveling with Bush on Saturday. The content of the response has not been made public. But The New York Times, quoting diplomatic officials, reported on Saturday that the response did not provide direct answers or specifically address the proposals made by international powers. Instead, Iranian officials said that Teheran was willing to hold comprehensive negotiations on the matter, and that "The time for negotiating from the condescending position of inequality has come to an end," the diplomats said. "Iran's stance regarding its peaceful nuclear program has not changed," Elham told reporters on Saturday. Elham added that Iran is ready to talk about its nuclear program "within the framework of the international rules and regulations." Though the nature of Iran's response to the incentive package has not been made public, a European official, speaking on condition of anonymity for discussing confidential information, did not describe it as a breakthrough. "It was not something that made us jump up and down with joy," said the official. "We are in a holding mode until we get a chance to look at it more closely." A positive response could open the way to renewed negotiations that might help cool recent sharp exchanges between officials on both sides. In recent weeks the US and Iran have traded threats and warnings over possible American or Israeli military action. Acting on behalf of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana offered the modified package of economic incentives to Iran during his June visit. The six nations - the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany - first offered a package of economic, technological and political incentives to Teheran nearly two years ago on condition that it suspend enrichment. The standoff has led to increasingly tense exchanges about the possibility of a military strike by Israel or the US. Iran has said that any military action against its nuclear facilities would be viewed as the beginning of a war.