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Rice: Iran Still Going Before UN on Nuclear Program


Iran says an international offer of incentives to end its uranium enrichment is an acceptable basis for further negotiations. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the nations making that offer will still bring Iran before the U.N. Security Council, because Tehran has not formally responded to the deal.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi says, it is time for Iran and European officials to begin detailed negotiations over incentives proposals for Iran to stop enriching uranium.

He called for world leaders at the Group of Eight industrialized nations meeting in Russia to choose dialogue with Iran, saying that is the correct path. The path of extremism and threats, he told reporters, is not acceptable and will not work.

Because Iran refused to respond formally to incentives offers before the start of this summit, Rice says, the allies will bring the nation before the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

"There is indeed a very good proposal on the table that could be a basis for negotiation," she said. "There is also a path ahead to the Security Council on which we are now launched, given the outcome of the meeting in Paris, because the Iranians had not responded positively in a timely fashion."

The latest incentive offer was made by the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany. They had hoped for a response from Iran before foreign ministers met in Paris last week.

Rice says she hopes someone in Tehran will get in touch with European officials to offer a concrete and authoritative response to the package of incentives first offered six weeks ago.

Iran says it plans to respond to that offer late next month. The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman says taking the issue to the United Nations is not constructive and will derail negotiations.

President Bush, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are at the G-8 summit pushing for punitive sanctions against Iran. While agreeing to discuss the matter at the United Nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Hu Jintao are resisting such firm action.

Russia is helping build Iran's first atomic power station, and has significant investments in the country.

Russia's chief nuclear official, Sergei Kiriyenko, says Russia's cooperation with Iran is based on the country's right to develop civilian nuclear energy and its promise not to try to develop nuclear weapons.

President Bush says he and President Putin agree that Iran should not have nuclear weapons, and the clearer Tehran hears that unified message, he says, the closer it will be to realizing the incentives package offers a better way forward.