AP: The European Union on Saturday presented Iran with a modified package of incentives to suspend its uranium enrichment program, but an Iran government spokesman said the country would reject the offer if it requires a halt to sensitive nuclear work.
The Associated Press
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The European Union on Saturday presented Iran with a modified package of incentives to suspend its uranium enrichment program, but an Iran government spokesman said the country would reject the offer if it requires a halt to sensitive nuclear work.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana presented Iran with the package on behalf of the United States, Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China, describing it as generous and comprehensive.
But Iran's government spokesman, Gholam Hossein Elham, said Iran won't accept the offer if it asks Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.
"If suspension is included in the package, it won't be considered at all," the official IRNA news agency quoted Elham as saying Saturday. "The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran is clear. Preconditions can't be raised for any halt or suspension."
The EU and the six nations are seeking new ways of persuading Iran to shut down its uranium enrichment program, which they suspect will be used to make nuclear weapons. Three sets of U.N. sanctions have failed to bring any change.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian use only.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran's response to the package will hinge on what the world powers have to say about Tehran's own set of proposals presented last month.
President Bush, in his final tour of Europe before stepping down in seven months, said Saturday that Iran has isolated its people and put the world in danger by rejecting the offer.
"I'm disappointed that the leaders rejected this generous offer out of hand," Bush said. "It's an indication to the Iranian people that their leadership is willing to isolate them further."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy took the same approach as Bush at a joint news conference. He said the Iranian people "deserve better than the impasse into which some of their leaders are leading them."
Sarkozy called a nuclear Iran an "unacceptable menace to the stability of the world" and his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told the Saudi daily Okaz in a Saturday interview that new sanctions would be imposed on Iran if it turned down the incentive package.
Solana met Mottaki Saturday morning and was expected to meet with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, later in the day.
Elham said there was no plan for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to meet with Solana.
The six nations first offered a package of economic, technological and political incentives to Tehran nearly two years ago on condition that it suspend enrichment, which can be used both to generate nuclear fuel or to make the fissile core of nuclear warheads.
The repackaged incentives were agreed on last month in what diplomats called mainly cosmetic changes to the original 2006 offer, while maintaining the threat of further U.N. sanctions.
Associated Press Writer Abdullah Shihri contributed to this report from Riyadh.