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US allows Iran to consider nuclear package

Written by: Staff

Washington, June 7 (UNI) The United States has said it is not pushing Iran for a quick response to the international proposal aimed at resolving the crisis over its nuclear programme.

Instead, it is waiting patiently for an Iranian response putting no deadlines on decision making in Iran and refusing to provide details of the so-called ''carrots and sticks'' package drawn up by the five permanent UN Security Council member states and Germany.

The package of incentives for Iran to halt uranium enrichment, or penalties if it doesn't, was formally presented in Tehran by European Union chief diplomat Javier Solana yesterday.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was briefed over the telephone by Mr Solana, who, he said, told the secretary his discussions in Tehran had been ''very useful and constructive''.

According to Mr McCormack, Mr Solana has conveyed that the Iranians told him they would consider the proposal but would need some time to review it, and that the European envoy said he would be back in contact with them in the coming days.

Iran's initial public response has been muted, with the country's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Laranjani saying the initiative contains ''positive steps'' but also some ambiguities.

US President George W Bush said in Texas that Iran's initial reaction seemed positive and his spokesman Tony Snow said it was heartening that Iran appeared to be taking the big-power initiative seriously.

At a news briefing, Mr McCormack said the international offer was not open-ended but that Iran would be given ample time -- a matter of weeks, not months -- to consider its reply.

''The diplomacy, I would say, is at a sensitive stage. This package has been presented to the Iranian government. We want to give them a little bit of space to consider what's in the package, both on the positive as well as the negative side. We want to do that free from having a public debate about what has been agreed upon by all the members of the P-5 Plus One,'' he said.

Though details have not been given, the international package is understood to offer Iran trade and technological assistance if it halts uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity US and European officials believe is weapons-related, and returns to negotiations with Britain, France and Germany.

If it spurns the offer, Iran would face UN Security Council action followed by various sanctions.

However, according to a report in the New York Times, the incentives offer includes a commitment by the sponsors of the package to assist Iran's civil nuclear programme, including joint projects for building internationally safeguarded light-water reactors.

The Times report also said the United States would agree to back Iran's membership in the World Trade Organization and drop sanctions that have prevented Tehran from buying spare parts for its ageing fleet of American-made aircraft.

Spokesman McCormack reiterated that the package does not include US security guarantees for Iran, either unilateral or in tandem with the other major powers.


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