Iran Nuclear NewsIran calls UN sanctions illegal, offers a proposal for...

Iran calls UN sanctions illegal, offers a proposal for talks

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ImageAP: Iran's new offer for international talks touches on a broad range of topics, but fails to address U.N. Security Council calls for Tehran to give up uranium enrichment, according to a copy of the offer obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

The Associated Press

By GEORGE JAHN

ImageVIENNA, Austria (AP) — Iran's new offer for international talks touches on a broad range of topics, but fails to address U.N. Security Council calls for Tehran to give up uranium enrichment, according to a copy of the offer obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

The Islamic Republic also sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon complaining that it was "illegal" for the Security Council to impose sanctions against the country for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.

In the letter, which was also obtained by the AP, Iran obliquely slams the U.S. and its allies for their pursuit of the sanctions.

Both the letter and the document, entitled "The Islamic Republic of Iran's Proposed Package for Constructive Negotiations," were sent to Ban on Tuesday. A copy of the offer was given Wednesday to Javier Solana, the chief EU foreign policy official who has held a series of abortive talks with Iranian representatives.

Iran's EU ambassador Ali Ashgar Khaji said the proposal presented to Solana was designed to resolve international concerns over his country's nuclear program and address wider security issues. Solana's office welcomed the overture, and said he would pass the proposal on to Germany, France and Britain, which are trying to engage Iran on its nuclear program along with the United States, Russia and China.

Still, the proposal was unlikely to be taken up by the six powers as a new basis for negotiations. Beyond outlining terms that were sure to be rejected as too broad and vague, it avoided any direct mention of the issue the six world powers have been pursuing — a freeze on uranium enrichment before any talks on Tehran's nuclear ambitions begin.

The six nations first offered Tehran a package of economic, technological and political incentives nearly two years ago on the condition that it suspend enrichment, which can be used both to generate nuclear fuel or to make the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

Iran, which insists its enrichment aims are peaceful, has consistently rejected a freeze during on-off talks with Solana, who negotiates for the six. This month, those world powers agreed on repackaging the incentives in what diplomats described as mainly cosmetic changes to the original 2006 offer, while maintaining the threat of further U.N. sanctions.

In the 2 1/2 page proposal Iran stated "there is an extensive range of issues such a security issues, regional and international developments, nuclear energy, terrorism, democracy, etc., that provide a substantive potential for cooperation."

It went on to detail a number of other areas for cooperation.

The offer proposed a discussion of political, security, economic and nuclear issues in "the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa and Latin America." It also linked the creation of a Palestinian state to such talks.

It said Iran would be willing to serve as one of the venues for "enrichment and fuel production consortiums," an offer previously rejected by the international community. Beyond that, the document talked only in generalities about the "nuclear issue."

In the accompanying letter to the U.N. secretary-general, Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki indirectly accused the U.S. and its allies of having "used the U.N. organs as a tool" — an allusion to their push for Security Council sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear defiance. He criticized "the unlawfulness of the intervention of the U.N. Security Council in Iran's peaceful nuclear program."

Mottaki said Iran is ready to talk to the six "within a specific framework on issues of mutual interest." But he appeared to reject the present carrot-and-stick approach, saying "intimidation and negotiation not only will not help resolving issues, but will indeed further complicate the situation."

While none of the big powers have specifically commented on the new Iranian offer, the United States on Wednesday appeared to rule out one of its key components saying the world powers had no plans to offer Iran security guarantees to nudge it toward suspending enrichment.

The State Department said Thursday it had received the Iranian proposal.

"We're going to take a few days to review it and analyze it, and we'll probably have more to say in the coming days," spokesman Sean McCormack said.

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