Iran Mulling over Date for N. Talks

12SADASD22.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran said it is examining a timetable presented by world powers for starting talks on a package aimed at ending the five-year standoff over its nuclear program.

Top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said the “timetable with several steps” had been put forward when EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana delivered the package last week.

“They presented the package and also made proposals, a timetable with several stages,” Jalili told reporters after a meeting with parliament, according to the students’ news agency.

The six main powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – agreed weeks ago on a so-called updated offer of incentives for Iran based on the 2006 version, which is aimed to encourage Iran to give up its NPT right of uranium enrichment.

Despite repeated statements by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and other western leaders that the new offer comprises improved aids to Tehran, western diplomats said that it contained no new major enticement compared with the previous package.

The proposal has been made public, as has a letter from the six world powers dealing with the nuclear crisis.

However neither the European Union nor the world powers have given details about a timetable which could envisage a series of bilateral moves as a prelude to negotiations.

Alongside the offer “they made proposals about the manner in which to start negotiations,” said Jalili. “We will study their proposals and give our point of view.”

Jalili did not elaborate on the timetable, but media reports have spoken of a “freeze-for-freeze” under which further sanctions against Tehran would be halted in exchange for Iran not increasing its uranium enrichment.

Iran is under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment, saying the demand is politically tainted and illogical.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Jalili, who is also Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), said the idea of Iran suspending enrichment , repeatedly rejected by the government, was not part of last week’s discussions.

After Iran answered outstanding questions of the International Atomic Energy Agency about the history of its past nuclear activities, Tehran said that it will only negotiate with the UN nuclear watchdog from then on. The Islamic Republic has also repeatedly stressed that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.

Yet, the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicts the report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

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