- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 12, 2005

From combined dispatches

TEHRAN — Iran scoffed at U.S. incentives aimed at coaxing the Islamic republic to drop its nuclear ambitions and declared yesterday that Washington’s overtures did nothing to change Tehran’s plans to push ahead with its nuclear program.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to use peaceful nuclear technology, and no pressure, intimidation or threat can make Iran give up its right,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

Washington insists Tehran’s uranium enrichment program is designed to build a nuclear weapon, not merely to provide an alternative energy source.

Tehran issued its defiant response a day after the Bush administration softened its stance on how to thwart Iran’s nuclear development and agreed to support a European plan that offers economic incentives for Iran to give up any weapons ambitions.

The U.S. concessions, announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, include an end to American opposition to Iran’s application for membership in the World Trade Organization and a partial lifting of the ban on sales of some spare parts for Iran’s civilian aircraft.

In an interview Friday with editors and reporters at The Washington Times, Miss Rice said that the move did not represent a softening of U.S. demands on the Iranian regime.

“We have a lot of issues with Iran. It’s not just the nuclear issue. Our challenge is to continue to speak to the aspirations of the Iranian people, even as we deal with near-term issues like the Iranian nuclear program,” she said.

Iran President Mohammad Khatami told reporters in Caracas, Venezuela yesterday that Tehran was willing to work with nations seeking to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, but he also said U.S. and EU pressure would not force it to abandon its nuclear fuel program.

“We are not going to give up our rights,” Mr. Khatami said, “but, at the same time, we are willing to work with the world to give more security that Iran is not moving toward construction of nuclear weapons.”

Iran suspended its enrichment activities last year to build confidence for its negotiations with the Europeans and to avoid being referred to the U.N. Security Council for the possible imposition of sanctions.

Tehran says maintaining the voluntary freeze depends on progress in talks with Britain, Germany and France.

The Europeans have threatened to take Iran to the Security Council if it resumes uranium enrichment.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide