US: Nothing conclusive on Iran's new offer

Comes after nuclear negotiator Jalili says Teheran has prepared revised package of proposals for West.

Jalili 248.88 (photo credit: )
Jalili 248.88
(photo credit: )
After Iran's top nuclear negotiator said his country was ready to hold talks with world powers and had prepared a revised package of proposals, the United States said it had heard nothing conclusive about Teheran's reported new offer for negotiations. "We've seen the reports, though we have not heard anything conclusively from the Iranians on that," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Regarding the offer made by six world powers to hold talks on Iran's nuclear program, Gibbs said, "It's still out there, it is still waiting for a response." "Though we have not seen anything from them, it has always been our hope and goal that the Iranians will live up to their international obligations and give up their nuclear weapons program," Gibbs added. Earlier Tuesday, Reuters reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad planned to address this month's UN General Assembly meeting. An appearance by Ahmadinejad at the UN would be his first trip to the West since his disputed re-election in June. Obama is scheduled to speak at the same UN meeting on September 23. "The president's trip to New York is still on his agenda, and relevant officials here in Teheran are working on the necessary preparations," Ali-Akbar Javanfekr, Ahmadinejad's media adviser, told Reuters. "The date of his arrival there and the length of his visit depend on coordination between Teheran and the United Nations. This is the same for the day of his speech," he said. In a speech at the same event last year, Ahmadinejad railed against "Zionist murderers" and vowed to resist American bullying and defend Iran's right to nuclear power. Nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili had told reporters of the country's new proposals a day before a meeting in Germany of the six countries trying to address concerns about Iran's nuclear program - the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany. "Iran has prepared to present its revised package of proposals ... and is ready to hold talks with world powers ... in order to ease common concerns in the international arena," the TV quoted Jalili as telling reporters. The US has given Iran a deadline of the end of September to take up an offer of nuclear talks with six world powers and enjoy trade incentives should it suspend uranium enrichment activities. If not, Iran could face harsher sanctions. Teheran in the past said its new proposals deal with political and economic issues as well as security and international affairs but did not say how it would address Western concerns that its nuclear program is a cover to build atomic weapons. The US and its European allies want to draw Iran back into negotiations over its nuclear program. At the G-8 summit in Italy in July, President Barack Obama said there was a September "time frame" for Iran to respond to offers to discuss its nuclear program. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany offered Iran a modified package of economic incentives June last year in return for suspending its uranium enrichment activities or face harsher sanctions. Iran has repeatedly vowed it will never suspend enrichment work but said the incentives package has some "common ground" with Teheran's own proposals for a resolution to the standoff. The US accuses Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons and wants it to stop enriching uranium, a process used to produce fuel for reactors that can also be a pathway to weapons production. Iran has denied the accusations, saying its nuclear is peaceful and is aimed at generating electricity, not a bomb. Senior US officials have speculated that the turmoil in Iran following the disputed June presidential election could distract its senior leaders from diplomacy over the country's nuclear program. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has supported Ahmadinejad during the crisis, but the pro-reform opposition continues to decry his re-election as fraudulent. Khamenei's attempts to end the unrest have been complicated by conservatives who have joined the opposition in criticizing abuse against protesters and activists detained after the election. That anger has spilled over into the conservative-dominated parliament, where Ahmadinejad faces a difficult battle in getting lawmakers to approve his proposed Cabinet ministers. Lawmakers from both sides have accused Ahmadinejad of choosing many nominees who lack the necessary experience and are simply unquestioning loyalists. But the president received a welcome show of support Tuesday when parliament praised his nominee for defense minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. Vahidi is wanted by Argentina in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, and his nomination has drawn an outcry from the South American country and Jewish groups. But Iranian lawmakers hailed him as a hero with cries of "Death to Israel" as he addressed the chamber Tuesday. One reformist made a dramatic gesture by proclaiming to other lawmakers that he would drop his initial opposition to Vahidi. "Because of the ominous stance of the Zionist regime against Vahidi, I not only give up my opposition but will vote for him," state TV quoted Hadi Qavami as saying. The widespread support raises the likelihood Vahidi will be confirmed as defense chief when parliament votes on the entire Cabinet list on Wednesday. Vahidi is one of five prominent Iranians sought by Argentina in the bombing, which killed 85 people. He was the commander of a special unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds Force at the time of the attack. Iran has denied that Vahidi was involved in the attack. But Interpol said in 2007 it would help Argentina arrest Vahidi and the four other Iranians wanted in connection with the bombing.