Friday, Aug 1, 2008
The US has backed down from its strong demand that Iran should give a response to the West’s package of incentives within two weeks.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had warned Iran to halt its uranium enrichment or face ‘punitive measures’ after Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana and representatives from the Group 5+1 held a meeting in Geneva on Tehran’s nuclear issue on July 19.
However, the US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack Thursday implicitly retracted the two-week deadline for Iran.
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“I didn’t count the days. It’s coming up soon,” McCormack told reporters when asked if August 2, Saturday, was the deadline for Iran to give its answer. He had earlier warned Iran to halt uranium enrichment or face further sanctions over its nuclear program.
McCormack’s new comment marks the second US withdrawal in dealing with Iran’s nuclear activities.
The United States sent its diplomat, William Burns, to the Geneva talks despite its earlier insistence that Iran should suspend uranium enrichment before entering talks on its nuclear program. Iran repeatedly said it would not accept the suspension as a precondition for talks.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki late Wednesday rejected the US demand, saying no deadline had been agreed upon during the previous meeting with Solana and P5+1 representative in Tehran.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said his country, a member of the 5+1 Group, opposes setting a US-proposed fortnight deadline for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment.
The US and its staunch ally Israel –both possessors of nuclear warheads — accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons but Tehran dismisses such allegations, stressing that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
Various reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) including the latest by Mohamed ElBaradei, the Chief of IAEA, have confirmed Iran’s non-diversion towards nuclear bomb material.
This article was posted: Friday, August 1, 2008 at 5:17 am