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World Awaits Positive Iranian Nuclear Response

by Staff Writers
Vienna (AFP) Jun 15, 2006
World powers, seeking to woo Iran with incentives in return for guarantees its nuclear program is peaceful, held off threatening sanctions, diplomats said at a meeting of the UN atomic agency. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors compliance with international nuclear safeguards, is expected to debate Iran's nuclear activities in Vienna on Thursday.

Diplomats from the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors told AFP they want to avoid conflict for now in order to encourage a positive response from Iran to the incentives offer from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana did not present a list of sanctions in handing over in Tehran on June 6 the offer of trade, security and technology benefits, diplomats said.

Benefits include the United States lifting some of its trade sanctions against Iran and active international support for the "building of new light water reactors in Iran," according to a copy of the text shown to AFP.

"We only handed over the positive part. The idea was not to give Iran a pretext to turn the proposal down," a European diplomat close to the IAEA said.

The IAEA board members will be hearing a report from agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei which shows Iran has failed to cooperate fully in resolving concern that it is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.

But ElBaradei had said in opening the IAEA meeting Monday that he remained "convinced that the way forward lies through dialogue and mutual accommodation among all concerned parties."

The six world powers repeated their call at the IAEA for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment in order to start talks but non-aligned states were set to back Tehran's right to this sensitive fuel technology, which can also make nuclear weapon material.

In Madrid, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki described the offer made to Iran as "very positive" and said Tehran was "in the process of examining the proposal very seriously and will reply to it as soon as possible".

South African delegate chief Abdul Minty told AFP non-aligned countries would repeat in Vienna a call made by non-aligned foreign ministers in Kuala Lumpur in May backing Iran's right to uranium enrichment.

Diplomats said Washington had wanted to prevent such a statement in order to keep up pressure on Iran.

But there was no confrontation.

A Western diplomat told reporters: "My consultations with other board members have made it clear to me that countries from every region and from every grouping are concerned about Iran's failure to cooperate and to build confidence with the international community."

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh said Iran appreciated the non-aligned position.

"For the past three years, the uninterrupted support of the NAM (non-aligned movement) has been invaluable," Soltanieh told reporters, adding that the stance from the 116-nation bloc "shows that the majority of the international community supports Iran."

Meanwhile, Britain filed a statement to ElBaradei, transmitting British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett's summary of the incentives proposal made to Iran after being agreed on by the six world powers on June 1 in Vienna.

Beckett said that if Iran suspended uranium enrichment to start talks, the West would suspend action in the Security Council.

If not, she warned, "further steps would have to be taken in the Security Council. We urge Iran to take the positive path and to consider seriously our substantive proposals which would bring significant benefits to Iran."

US ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte told reporters that the six "all agree that Iran has a clear choice -- a positive path that brings real benefits and long-term security to the Iranian people, and if Iran chooses not to negotiate, a negative path that would lead to further steps in the Security Council."

Schulte said the six "all agree that Iran's leaders have not taken the steps necessary to give the international community confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's program."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Shanghai (AFP) Jun 15, 2006
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