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Brussels (UPI) Oct 9, 2012
Iran never made a reported proposal to Europe in a bid to end its nuclear standoff with the West, the country's chief negotiator says.
Saeed Jalili, Iran's top negotiator with the P5+1 nations of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany, Saturday denied a New York Times report claiming Tehran last week quietly floated the idea of offering the European countries a "nine-step plan" to defuse the nuclear crisis.
The newspaper said the offer -- reportedly rejected by the United States -- came as a sign that deepening economic problems inside Iran caused by EU and U.S. economic sanctions were putting pressure on the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But Jalili, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told Iranian media the Times report was unfounded and that no such program was offered.
"No new proposal outside the framework of the negotiations with the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany) has been presented, and claims made by certain American media outlets in this regard are unfounded," Jalili told Press TV.
Instead, Tehran is waiting for the P5+1's response to the proposals it offered at Baghdad May 23 and 24 and elaborated on at the June 18-19 Moscow talks,
Supreme National Security Council Deputy Secretary Ali Baqeri said.
"The framework of Iran's proposals has not changed from what was presented in Moscow," he told state-owned media.
The Security Council has slapped Iran with four rounds of sanctions to pressure the country over its nuclear program, which the West claims has a military component aimed at developing weapons of mass destruction -- allegations Tehran vehemently denies.
The European Union and the United States imposed a new round of sanctions this year against Iran's oil and financial sectors. This month has seen a steep slide in the value of Iran's currency against the U.S. dollar, resulting in street protests last week in Iran.
Analysts told the BBC Iranians are blaming President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policies, while Iran has pointed the finger at the sanctions for the crisis.
The Times report said Iran's nine-step plan would require the West to lift oil and economic sanctions in return for Tehran suspending its uranium enrichment activities. It was reportedly offered during a visit to the recent U.N. General Assembly, during which Iranian officials tried to "drum up support" for it.
The newspaper also said American officials have dismissed the offer as unworkable because it would allow the enrichment activities to continue until the all the sanctions had been lifted and Iran's hard-hit oil revenues were flowing again.
Under the current Western proposal, Iran would be required to halt all production of medium-enriched uranium immediately in return for a gradual lifting of the sanctions.
Baqeri Saturday reiterated Iran's position in the talks, which includes a demand they must not go on indefinitely and have "a starting point and the end point."
Tehran also says the West must also recognize its right to uranium enrichment for civilian purposes under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"Iran's nuclear rights should not be reduced and no obligations beyond the NPT should be imposed on it," he said.
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