U.S. officials are warning Iran that time is running out for Tehran to
respond to proposals by the EU and the Security Council to resolve the
nuclear stand-off. Iran was given two weeks to reply before risking yet
another round of sanctions. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London.
U.S. officials say it's time Iran offers a serious response to EU and U.N. proposals.
latest package of incentives was discussed July 19 in Geneva, in a
closed door meeting that represented Iran, the five permanent members
of the Security Council, (the P5), Germany and the European Union.
Taking part for the first time was a senior American envoy,
Undersecretary of State William Burns.
Greg Schulte is the U.S.
Ambassador to the U.N. in Vienna and the International Atomic Energy
Agency, the IAEA. Speaking with VOA in London, Ambassador Schulte said
Iran's response at that meeting turned into a "meandering lesson in
Iranian history and culture".
"We weren't there for a lesson," he said. "The P5 was there to see if Iran was willing to negotiate seriously."
On the table were a series of proposals delivered to the Iranians by EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana in June.
Schulte outlined some of the proposals.
have offered Iran's leaders a very generous package that would give
them access to state of the art technology for nuclear power plants,
that would give them assurances of fuel supply, that would address some
of the security issues that they've raised, that would allow for
cooperation in areas of common interest like fighting against
narcotics," he said. "And, we've looked for a way to get them into
those negotiations and we said we would be there."
A way to
entice the Iranians into negotiating is the freeze-for-freeze offer, meaning Iran would freeze its uranium enrichment at current levels and
the U.N. and EU would freeze their current levels of sanctions. This
period would last six weeks, to build confidence and allow for more
substantive negotiations to begin.
The bottom line demand
remains, however that Iran must actually suspend the enrichment of
uranium, the nuclear fuel source that can be used for generating
energy, but also for making nuclear weapons.
The United States
has said it would not negotiate directly with the Iranians until they
suspend uranium enrichment. So, the presence of Undersecretary Burns
at the Geneva meeting was widely seen as a shift in U.S. policy.
so, insists Schulte.
"The reason why Undersecretary Burns went to this
meeting was not a change in U.S. policy, but was rather to send a
strong signal," he said. "It was to send a signal that we backed -- we
supported the package that was put on the table."
Iran was given two weeks to respond to the latest proposals or face further sanctions.
The United States, the U.N. and the EU have already imposed a series of sanctions on Iran and are threatening more.
leaders continue to say they will not suspend uranium enrichment and on
Wednesday President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted Iran would continue
its nuclear program. And yet Iran says it is ready to talk.
believe Iran is simply buying time, especially given the upcoming
presidential election in the United States and a change in
That would be a waste of time, says Schulte. "If
they try to outwait us, if they try to just buy time, they're only
going to buy continued sanctions and more sanctions," he said. "And,
whoever goes into the White House on January 21st is not going to look
favorably at an Iran that has spent six more months violating Security
Iran has all along said it wants to
develop nuclear power for peaceful means, to provide energy. However,
many in the international community believe Iran wants to develop