AFP: US President George W. Bush on Monday warned Iran of “progressively stronger political and economic sanctions” if Tehran refuses to freeze sensitive nuclear activities in return for talks. KING’S POINT, New York, June 19, 2006 (AFP) – US President George W. Bush on Monday warned Iran of “progressively stronger political and economic sanctions” if Tehran refuses to freeze sensitive nuclear activities in return for talks.
“If Iran’s leaders want peace, and prosperity, and a more hopeful future for their people, they should accept our offer, abandon any ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons, and come into compliance with their international obligations,” Bush said in a speech to the US Merchant Marine Academy here.
The United States and its partners — Britain, France, Germany as well as Russia and China — have made Iran’s suspension of uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities a condition for talks on Tehran’s atomic program.
“If Iran’s leaders reject our offer, it will result in action before the (UN) Security Council, further isolation from the world, and progressively stronger political and economic sanctions,” he said.
Iran, which denies US charges that it seeks nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic program, said Monday it was preparing a counter-offer as officials rejected that key stipulation.
Bush was speaking to the graduating class at the United States Merchant Marine Academy one day before travelling to Austria for the annual US-European Union summit, where Iran was to be a central topic of discussion.
“I have a message for the Iranian regime: America and her partners are united. We have presented a reasonable offer. Iran’s leaders should see our proposal for what it is: A historic opportunity to set their country on a better course,” said the US president.
The US-backed offer, presented to Iran on June 6, involves incentives and multilateral talks if Iran agrees to temporarily halt the sensitive nuclear activity and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always favored a just and equal dialogue with no preconditions,” state television quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying in a meeting with Iran’s top officials and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The hardline president said a counter-offer was being prepared to one presented earlier this month by the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, which he nevertheless described as “a step forward.”
“Our experts are examining the proposal, after the examination … Iran’s views will be submitted to the other party,” he added.