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Iran Still Plans to Respond to Nuclear Offer in Late August


Iran says it is still studying a package of incentives offered by the West to get Tehran to halt uranium enrichment. The country's National Security Council has also accused the United States of attempting to block any negotiated settlement on the issue.

The National Security Council statement, read over state television by chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, says the proposal takes time to study and a response will not be offered until August 22.

Mr. Larijani also accused the United States of trying to sabotage any settlement, and reiterated earlier warnings that Iran might reconsider its nuclear policies if the U.N. Security Council decides to take punitive measures. He did not say what that would entail.

But officials in Tehran say Iran is prepared to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and withhold any cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency if it comes under U.N.-imposed sanctions.

The United States has said Iran is embarked on a path to nuclear weapons, although most analysts say any possible Iranian nuclear bomb is still five or more years away. The West offered Iran a package of incentives on June 6th designed to get Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment and abandon ambitions to become a nuclear-armed nation.

Iran denies it wants nuclear weapons, and says it is only seeking peaceful nuclear energy.

In a VOA interview, Kamal Daneshyar, chairman of the Energy Committee in Iran's Parliament, says the country needs nuclear power to meet its growing energy needs.

"There will be a need for at least 100 nuclear power plants in the near future," Daneshyar says, "and Iran will require 20 of them," said Daneshyar.

Daneshyar said Iran is prepared to prove its good will and show it has no weapons ambitions by engaging in nuclear joint ventures with other countries "from A to Z," as he put it.

But there is no sign Iran is willing to suspend uranium enrichment, which the Western nations have laid down as a precondition to further negotiations on the nuclear issue.