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. Iran demands EU nuclear offer within two days
TEHRAN (AFP) Jul 30, 2005
A new point of tension emerged Saturday in the delicate search for a nuclear deal between the European Union and Iran when Tehran demanded the bloc publish its latest proposals within the next two days.

An Iranian nuclear negotiator, Ali Agha Mohammadi, told AFP that Britain, France and Germany must present their offer for a deal by Monday, which he said was the originally scheduled time and not a later proposed date of August

Mohammadi also expressed scepticism over the content of the proposals, which aim to forge a deal that would give Iran nuclear energy cooperation in exchange for providing guarantees that its controversial nuclear programme is peaceful.

Ambassadors from the so-called EU-3 sent a message to the foreign ministry informing Tehran that it would make the offer by August 7, said Mohammadi. "After studying the message, the Islamic republic decided that the European proposals must be submitted on August 1," he added.

The EU had said on Tuesday the package would probably be presented in the first week of the month, after hardliner Mahmood Ahmadinejad takes over the presidency on August 3.

The negotiator complained that the August 1 date had been fixed at a previous meeting in London and if the Europeans did not stick to this then Iran would take "measures in line with its national interest".

However a spokesman for the British Foreign Office in London denied that there was ever a deadline for the European Union to come up with the proposals.

"An exact date hasn't been fixed," said the spokesman, adding the parties were only following a general guideline of late July or early August.

Asked whether the European Union would now submit the offer on Monday, he replied: "I very much doubt it, but I can't confirm the dates."

For his part Mohammadi also lamented that the content of message was not in line with what it wanted to see from the proposals. "The European proposals have to be corrected and presented at the requested moment."

One of the chief stumbling blocks in the process so far has been the issue of uranium enrichment, a sensitive process which Iran says is its right under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but the EU would like Tehran to renounce.

Mohammadi indicated that the message did not recognise its right to enrichment. "It is necessary that the minimum demands of the Islamic republic... are taken into account in the proposals," he said.

According to Mohammadi the message details the "numerous obligations" that Iran would have to respect to prove to the world that it is not attempting to build a nuclear bomb.

For the Europeans, the most watertight guarantee of Iran's intentions would be a renouncement of uranium enrichment, a process that can be used both for civilian energy purposes and to manufacture the explosive core of a nuclear bomb.

Washington accuses its arch enemy Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by the Islamic republic. The negotiation process with the European Union is aimed at avoiding a stand-off at the UN Security Council over the issue.

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