Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Iran Seems Open to Incentives Package

By Alissa J. Rubin and Kasra Naji


June 6, 2006
nuclear iran— Iranian officials signaled Monday that they would look seriously at a package of incentives world powers are offering the country if it will suspend its nuclear program.

European envoy Javier Solana arrived Monday night in the Iranian capital with the proposals and was scheduled to deliver them this morning. He struck a conciliatory note in a short statement at the airport, urging "a fresh start."

"We want to construct a solid relationship between the countries we represent based on mutual respect, mutual confidence and mutual trust. We want to restart a fresh relationship…. The proposals we bring along, [that] we carry, we think will allow us to engage in negotiations based on the spirit of trust, respect and confidence."

The Iranians' tone was also more conciliatory and careful than during the last several days, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made comments that sounded as if they were preparing to dismiss the package. They had insisted that Iran would never give up its nuclear program.

On Solana's arrival, however, officials suggested that there could be many rounds of negotiation as their leaders study the proposal, consider what steps to take and discuss possible additions or changes.

"It has been agreed that a kind of shuttle diplomacy will take place and our meetings and responses will be considered," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in comments to the media.

"From their point of view, they believe their package is complete," said Mottaki, referring to the European Union, Russia, China and the United States. "Our views could also help finalize it."

Mottaki's comments indicate, as many diplomats expected, that Iran will negotiate the terms of the offer before deciding whether to accept it. A key element is that to obtain the economic, technological and security incentives in the package, Iran must give up its uranium enrichment work and related activities such as processing raw uranium known as yellowcake into UF6 gas, which is then enriched in centrifuges.

Iran wants to continue at least some of those activities. Western countries fear that its ultimate goal is to manufacture a nuclear bomb, but Iranian officials insist they want nuclear technology only for civilian use.

The details of the offer Solana will deliver have been kept secret to emphasize that it is a matter for serious diplomacy. The Iranians appeared to acknowledge that message, saying Monday that they would wait to take a look at the offer and appreciated the discretion.

"We don't know what is in the package. If there is political will, and there is no will to politicize the dossier, we can achieve a comprehensive solution," said Mottaki, who is scheduled to meet with Solana today.

The package will be delivered to Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator. Larijani is thought to be one of the most powerful players in determining Iran's atomic policies.

The decision to have Solana deliver the offer reflects both his position as European Union foreign policy chief — Britain, France and Germany led the effort to get a deal with Iran for more than two years — and his background as a nuclear physicist.

Before becoming a diplomat, Solana earned a doctorate in physics from the University of Virginia and taught there before returning to Spain, where he taught solid state physics for several years before moving into politics.
source:los angles times
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

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