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Iran Says No to Speedy Response to Nuclear Incentives Package


Iran's foreign minister has rejected calls for a prompt reply to an international proposal aimed at ending a standoff over its nuclear program. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki made the comments during a visit to the United Nations.

Mottaki says it will be August before Iran responds to an offer of incentives in return for halting its uranium enrichment program. The package of incentives includes an offer of peaceful nuclear technology from the United States.

The five permanent Security Council powers and Germany made the offer June 6. The Group of Seven industrial powers and Russia, known as the G8, said Thursday it expects an answer by July 5, when Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani meets European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

But speaking through an interpreter at the U.N., Foreign Minister Mottaki said Iran needs more time to clarify what he called ambiguities in the package.

"We did not agree on any specific date to respond, it's emphasized that reviews will be careful, that's why different committees are considering different segments of this proposed package and as soon as it is prepared, which will naturally in initial reviews which I don't think would be earlier than August, we would make an announcement," he said.

Mottaki is at the United Nations to attend a conference on the illicit trade in small arms. He met with Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who urged him to respond quickly to the international offer of incentives.

The United States and European powers suspect Iran is trying to build atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Iran maintains that its nuclear activities are aimed solely at generating electricity.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported Iran to the Security Council earlier this year, saying it could not be sure if Tehran was enriching uranium for military purposes.

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