August 22, 2006

Carrot and Stick


From CNN: Iran says it's willing to resume talks.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator said his country is willing to return to serious talks on its nuclear program as early as Wednesday, Iranian media reported Tuesday.

However, Ali Larijani did not address the sticking point of whether the Islamic republic will halt its nuclear activities first. ...

Larijani, the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, was responding to a package of incentives offered by the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany in June, IRNA reported. ...

Larijani formally delivered Iran's response to the ambassadors of Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and Switzerland during a meeting in Tehran.

Switzerland is representing the interests of the United States because Washington does not have diplomatic ties with Tehran. ...

If the response "doesn't meet the terms set" by the six nations the Security Council will proceed with levying economic sanctions against Iran, [U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John] Bolton said.

"If, on the other hand, the Iranians have chosen a path of cooperation ... then a different relationship with the United States and the rest of the world is possible," he said.

Iran still has until the end of the month to formally respond to a U.N. resolution demanding it stop its nuclear program and allow full inspections or face a move to impose economic sanctions.

Iranian officials in recent days have already rejected the resolution, saying they are within their rights to build a nuclear energy program despite fears from the West that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. ...

Talks with European negotiators stalled earlier this year when Iran ended its voluntary cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, halting snap inspections of its nuclear facilities and beginning small-scale uranium enrichment. ...

On Sunday, the Iranian military test-fired its Saeqeh [Thunderbolt] missiles and surface-to-water missiles in southwestern Khuzestan Province, which adjoins Iraq, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Kiumars Heidari told IRNA.

UPDATE I -- Aug. 23: From The Jerusalem Post: Report: Iran planning nuclear 'surprise'.

A senior official in Teheran said Wednesday that in the next few days, a "surprise" was expected regarding Iran's nuclear program, Al-Jazeera reported.

Teheran's apparent refusal to suspend uranium enrichment set the stage for a showdown at the UN Security Council later this month.

The United States said Wednesday that a proposal by Iran for nuclear negotiations falls short of UN demands for a halt to enrichment, and began plotting "next moves" with other governments.

UPDATE II -- Aug. 26: From FoxNews: Iranian President Says Nuclear Program Poses No Threat.

Iran's hard-line president on Saturday inaugurated a heavy-water production plant, a facility the West fears will be used to develop a nuclear bomb, as Tehran remained defiant ahead of a U.N. deadline that could lead to sanctions.

The U.N. has called on Tehran to stop the separate process of uranium enrichment which also can be used to create nuclear weapons by Thursday or face economic and political sanctions.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that his nation's nuclear program poses no threat to other nations, even Israel, "which is a definite enemy."

Posted by Forkum at August 22, 2006 05:09 PM