Iran Nuclear NewsIran signals diplomatic initiative in nuclear row

Iran signals diplomatic initiative in nuclear row

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Reuters: Iran, defying the West over its disputed nuclear program, said on Sunday it would soon unveil proposals aimed at resolving “international” and other problems. By Hossein Jaseb

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran, defying the West over its disputed nuclear program, said on Sunday it would soon unveil proposals aimed at resolving “international” and other problems.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki made the announcement when asked about a meeting of six major powers in China next Wednesday to discuss whether to increase incentives to Tehran to curb work they fear could produce an atom bomb.

Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, says it wants nuclear power to generate electricity to meet booming demand and has ruled out halting its activities in exchange for trade and other benefits.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is trying to come up with a proposed package in an effort to resolve regional and international problems in dialogue with opposing parties,” Mottaki said, without explicitly mentioning the nuclear dispute.

“The proposed package will have a new orientation and I think various parties, including 5 plus 1, can take advantage of this plan,” he told reporters. “We will announce the details of this package in the near future.”

He was referring to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — and Germany who meet on April 16 in Shanghai to discuss whether to enhance incentives offered to Iran.

In June 2006, the world powers held out incentives to Iran, including civil nuclear cooperation and wider trade in civil aircraft, energy, high technology and agriculture, if Tehran suspended uranium enrichment.

But Iran has repeatedly rejected Western demands to stop enriching uranium, which can be used as fuel for power plants and to provide material for bombs if refined much further.

“Any package that would not guarantee the Islamic Republic of Iran’s rights or that might undermine or limit Iran’s rights would not be accepted by Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a weekly news conference on Sunday.

He also suggested Iran wanted compensation for damage caused by sanctions against the country, saying any negotiations could include “the manner of compensating” the country.

The Security Council has imposed three rounds of punitive measures on Iran since late 2006 over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear activities.

Iran announced last week it had expanded its nuclear work by starting to install 6,000 more centrifuges at its Natanz facility, in addition to the 3,000 already there.

Centrifuges spin compounds of uranium at supersonic speed to separate out and concentrate the most radioactive isotope of the element.

Tehran’s move was criticized by Western powers and France said the international community may have to toughen sanctions against Iran if it continues to ignore U.N. demands.

(Additional reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Stephen Weeks)

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