AFP: Iran and the West remain at odds over demands that Tehran suspend uranium enrichment, a senior Iranian official said Tuesday after the latest crisis talks with European officials.
BRUSSELS, July 11, 2006 (AFP) – Iran and the West remain at odds over demands that Tehran suspend uranium enrichment, a senior Iranian official said Tuesday after the latest crisis talks with European officials.
“The two sides expressed their wish to continue negotiations. We agreed on a number of principles but there is disagreement over suspension,” said the official, on condition of anonymity.
He was speaking after fresh talks between Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on the nuclear standoff.
Iran insists that it only wants to develop nuclear energy, but its lack of cooperation with the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog and enrichment activities have raised suspicions that it is covertly trying to build an atomic bomb.
In an effort to get it to freeze uranium enrichment — a process needed to fuel a nuclear reactor but which could also be used to make a bomb — the West on June 6 offered Iran a package of economic and political incentives.
The Brussels meeting was aimed at taking stock of developments since then, and to lay the groundwork for talks between foreign ministers from the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany in Paris on Wednesday.
The Iranian official said that the offer contained “no legal or executive guarantee, which makes it difficult for Iran to examine it.”
He also said that Solana “was unable to respond to all questions” put to him by the delegation and that he would “need to obtain a mandate” from the six powers to do so.
Overnight, the United States and Britain warned of a return to action through the UN Security Council if the Islamic republic takes too long to accept the package.