World powers waiting on Iranian response to initiative

2nd June 2006, Comments 0 comments

02 June 2006, VIENNA - The major powers involved in the dispute over Iranian nuclear activities were waiting Friday for a response from Tehran to their unified proposal to persuade Iran to comply with international demands to halt uranium enrichment. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett announced late Thursday that a package of incentives had been hammered out during a meeting in Vienna with her US, Chinese, Russian, German and French counterparts. "I'm pleased to say that we have agreed a set of far

02 June 2006

VIENNA - The major powers involved in the dispute over Iranian nuclear activities were waiting Friday for a response from Tehran to their unified proposal to persuade Iran to comply with international demands to halt uranium enrichment.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett announced late Thursday that a package of incentives had been hammered out during a meeting in Vienna with her US, Chinese, Russian, German and French counterparts.

"I'm pleased to say that we have agreed a set of far-reaching proposals as a basis for discussion with Iran," Beckett said.

The two-part package includes a set of incentives to encourage Iran to comply, but it also carries penalties that can be applied by the United Nations Security Council if Tehran does not cooperate.

Reports out of diplomatic circles in Vienna said that the US wants to give Iran a few weeks - until the scheduled G-8 summit in July in Russia - to make its decision whether to suspend uranium enrichment efforts.

Nicholas Burns, US under secretary of state for political affairs, said after the meeting that Washington was very satisfied with the outcome. He called the unified proposal "a step forward in our quest to deny Iran a nuclear weapons capability."

Citing "the delicate aspect of the negotiations that will now ensue with Iran," Burns refused to give details of the proposal, nor of the incentives and penalties offered to Iran.

"That was the agreement of everybody in the room (in Vienna), and so the United States will stick to that agreement," he said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after the meeting that the new proposals reopened the possibility of negotiations with Iran, and that he hoped the US, China and Russia would join any new round of talks, which had so far been conducted by the so-called EU-3 of Germany, France and Britain.

Both the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN watchdog agency to monitor compliance among countries signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, have called for Iran to halt all nuclear enrichment activities.

"We are prepared to resume negotiations should Iran resume suspension of all enrichment and reprocessing activities as required by the IAEA, and we would also suspend action in the Security Council," Beckett said. "We urge Iran to take the positive part and to consider seriously our substantive proposals."

Beckett made her brief statement in the British embassy garden in Vienna, flanked by the other participants, after several hours of negotiations.

Beckett did not offer details on the incentive package.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice participated in the meeting a day after announcing in Washington that the United States was willing to negotiate directly with the Iranians in multilateral discussions led by the Europeans, as long as Iran suspends uranium enrichment.

Iran has expressed a willingness to participate in negotiations that include the United States, but on Thursday Tehran appeared to reject the US condition of a halt to uranium enrichment.

The US had taken a "great step" with Rice's offer of talks, Steinmeier said earlier Thursday, adding that he hoped that the significance of Washington's overture would be understood in Teheran.

US President Bush said that the US was waiting for an official reaction from Iran.

"My reaction is the choice is theirs, and we'll see whether or not that is the firm position of their government," Bush said at a meeting of his cabinet earlier Thursday at the White House.

DPA

Subject: German News

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