Iran again demonstrates its intention to dictate the timetable of when and if it will discuss its nuclear program, encouraged by the West’s continuing and utter lack of will to demand otherwise.
1938 Alert from AP: “Iran again says no reply ’til mid-August”
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran rejected calls Tuesday for a quick answer to the package of Western incentives aimed at persuading it to suspend its uranium enrichment program, insisting that it will come up with a formal response by mid August.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran had to take time to study the proposal carefully before it offered a formal reply, and he hinted Tehran planned to negotiate some aspects of the package before answering.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, urged Iran to accept the incentives and China also called on Tehran to respond quickly.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said his country would wait until mid-August to respond to the Western offer, prompting President Bush to accuse Tehran of dragging its feet.
Mottaki confirmed the mid-August date would not change, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
“The date announced by the Islamic Republic of Iran for responding to the proposed package is unchangeable,” IRNA quoted Mottaki as saying.
“The (mid-August) date announced by Iran was based on the necessity for a comprehensive and accurate study of the package and is unalterable,” Mottaki was quoted as saying.
He hinted that Iran would negotiate some aspects of the deal before offering a formal response. “What can happen until that (mid-August) date is talks between Iran, the European Union and other countries that contributed in drawing up the package,” he said.
Mottaki made the announcement as Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani prepared to meet European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the package.
Solana presented the package when he visited Tehran on June 6. It offers Iran a range of incentives in exchange for a long-term moratorium on uranium enrichment, a process that can produce material for nuclear generators, or atomic bombs.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany want Iran to respond to the incentives as early as this week, before the July 15-17 summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Russia.