Iran Nuclear NewsUS closely reviewing Iran answer: White House

US closely reviewing Iran answer: White House

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AFP: The United States said Wednesday it was carefully reviewing Iran’s reply to an offer meant to end the standoff over Tehran’s atomic programs, but insisted the Islamic republic must freeze sensitive nuclear activities. WASHINGTON, Aug 23, 2006 (AFP) – The United States said Wednesday it was carefully reviewing Iran’s reply to an offer meant to end the standoff over Tehran’s atomic programs, but insisted the Islamic republic must freeze sensitive nuclear activities.

“Everybody understands that the international community has spoken, that a nuclear program must end in Iran,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, who later clarified she meant that Tehran must halt uranium enrichment.

Asked to assess Iran’s response to major world powers on its atomic programs, Perino declined, saying: “We’re giving it careful consideration and a careful review, as it deserves.”

US President George W. Bush discussed the matter with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in an early meeting with her at the White House, the spokeswoman indicated to reporters.

Perino declined to say what Washington thought of Tehran’s reply, made Tuesday, to an incentives package crafted by world powers to defuse concerns that Iran seeks nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian power program.

The UN Security Council’s five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and Germany also gave Iran until August 31 to agree to freeze uranium enrichment or face possible sanctions.

“The Security Council made clear what its position was, and we’re going to parse through and look at their (the Iranians’) response before responding fully,” Perino said as Washington and its partners weighed Iran’s ambiguous reply.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said Tuesday that Tehran was ready for “serious talks” but no details were made public of its response to an incentives package for imposing a moratorium on enrichment by August 31.

Europe said Iran’s response Tuesday required careful analysis as signs of a split began to emerge among world powers over how to respond, with the United States pressing for sanctions and China appealing for patience.

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