Iran said Sunday that it accepted some parts of a Western
offer aimed at getting Tehran to drop its nuclear program, but it rejected
others while calling the central point ambiguous.
Iran said the key issue of uranium enrichment -
a process that can make nuclear fuel for a power plant or fissile material for
an atomic bomb - needed clarification.
Although the government did not give specifics, the comments were the first
time Iran has said directly that it rejects or accepts parts of the package.
Top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Iran would reject the package
outright if Western powers threatened the Islamic republic with sanctions in the
The comments came as the United States and Europe lobbied other
nations to join them this week in urging Iran to accept the offer - and warning of
UN Security Council action if it does not - according to documents shared with The
Associated Press in Vienna, Austria.
The package, presented by permanent Security Council members the United
States, Russia, China, France and Britain, plus Germany, contains a series of
incentives for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, which would allow
negotiations over its nuclear ambitions.
The incentives include promises that the United States and Europe will
provide Iran nuclear technology and that Washington will join direct talks with
Iran has not responded to the offer, and it underlined Sunday that it would
not be rushed. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi insisted Iran was not
stalling over the package and would take "as long as is necessary" to study it.
He told a press conference the package includes "points which are acceptable.
There are points which are ambiguous. There are points that should be
strengthened, and points that we believe should not exist."
He did not give specifics.
Larijani said the offer of nuclear technology was a "positive point" but that
"there are also points that are unclear, such as the uranium enrichment
"This has not been made clear yet to Iran, so these are things where the
finishing touches must be made," he told reporters in Cairo, Egypt, after talks
with President Hosni Mubarak and Arab League chief Amr Moussa.
Egypt is one of the members of the U.N. watchdog nuclear agency's board of
directors, which the United States and Europe are lobbying to pressure Iran to
accept the deal.
Larijani sharply denounced any threats of sanctions against Iran in
connection with the package.
"We will not accept negotiations under pressure," he said.
He said the package, as presented to Iran, did not contain any threats of
The five permanent Security Council members and Germany are said to have
worked out a set of possible sanctions if Iran rejects the proposal, but these
were not mentioned when EU envoy Javier Solana presented the package to Iran
last week to maintain a positive atmosphere.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, which
Tehran denies, saying its program seeks only to develop energy.
But the package drops demands for an all-out scrapping of enrichment, instead
asking Iran to suspend such activity during the duration of any negotiations.
In two position papers shown to the AP, the United States and Europe were
lobbying hard for support of the package from members of the 35-nation board of
the International Atomic Energy Agency before a Monday meeting of the body.
"We are ... encouraging all board members to make firm statements to call on
Iran" to negotiate on the six-power offer, the U.S. position paper said.
If Tehran declines, the text warned that the five permanent Security Council
members plus Germany "have agreed to pursue measures, including at the U.N.
Security Council, (to) pressure the Iranian regime to change course."
The other text, issued by Britain, France and Germany, also warned that if
Iran remains defiant, "the Security Council will have no choice but to increase
the pressure on Iran."
The texts were shared with the AP by diplomats accredited to the gathering.