AFP: The United States held back Thursday from insisting on a strict deadline for Iran to give world powers a final answer to their incentives package to defuse a showdown over Tehran's nuclear program.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States held back Thursday from insisting on a strict deadline for Iran to give world powers a final answer to their incentives package to defuse a showdown over Tehran's nuclear program.
"I didn't count the days. It's coming up soon," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters when asked if Saturday is the deadline for Iran to accept or reject the offer.
A day after Iran, the United States and four other powers met in Geneva on July 19, Secretary of State warned Tehran of further "punitive measures" if it failed to come up with a clear response in two weeks.
August 2 will mark two weeks since that meeting — one in which Washington broke with longstanding policy and sent top diplomat William Burns to show it was going the extra mile for a diplomatic solution.
And not only did McCormack omit to mention a strict deadline, he also said there is "no indication of that" when asked about whether Washington would pull the incentives offer off the table.
Iran said Thursday that it had agreed with the major powers in Geneva to find common ground on both sides' proposals aimed at ending the standoff over Tehran's nuclear drive, and denied any ultimatum was set.
Iran on July 4 handed major powers what it said was its "constructive and creative" response to their offer presented by EU foreign policy envoy Javier Solana in June aimed at persuading Tehran to halt sensitive nuclear work.
McCormack on Wednesday warned of consequences of any defiance by the Islamic republic, referring to the US threat of more UN and bilateral sanctions.
The package, drawn up by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany offers Tehran technology and negotiations if it suspends uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make atomic weapons.
Iran has been slapped with three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt enrichment. It insists it has the right to nuclear technology as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and denies Western claims it is seeking to build atomic weapons.