TEHRAN (Reuters) – A senior EU official presented Iran on Tuesday with proposals from six world powers aimed at persuading Tehran to rein in a nuclear program that the West fears will lead to an atomic bomb.
Iran said it would review the proposals delivered in Tehran by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana to Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.
“We spoke for two hours and they gave their proposals. After reviewing it, Iran will give its answer,” Larijani told Iranian reporters after meeting Solana. His comments were later relayed to Reuters.
The package of incentives and penalties, agreed by the world powers, aims to defuse a standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. The West accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons but Tehran insists its goals are purely for peaceful, civilian use.
The initiative was put together by the three biggest EU states — Britain, France and Germany — and then approved by the United States, China and Russia.
“The proposal we bring along, the one that we carry, we think that will allow us to get engaged in that negotiation based on trust and respect and confidence,” Solana told reporters in brief comments at the airport late on Monday.
Iran has said it would consider the proposals but officials have also said Iran would not give up uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make fuel for nuclear power stations or, if enriched to a high enough level, material for bombs.
“If their aim is not politicizing the issue, and if they consider our demand, we can reach a logical agreement with them,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters shortly before Solana arrived.
The United States has said Iran’s negative comments so far are probably part of efforts to stake out a negotiating position and urged careful consideration by the Islamic Republic, with which it broke off diplomatic ties in 1980.
Mottaki said discussions on the package would require “shuttle diplomacy” and Iran would have suggestions to make — indicating no imminent breakthrough.
Details of the proposals have not been announced, but diplomats have been working on themes ranging from offering nuclear reactor technology to giving security guarantees.
The New York Times reported that incentives included a proposal to allow Tehran to purchase aircraft parts from Boeing Co and Airbus and to buy agricultural technology from the United States, which imposes trade sanctions on Iran.
Diplomats in Washington said an arms embargo against Iran was among the possible penalties if it rejected the offer.
But they said the six powers had pledged to keep details secret until the package was shown to Iran so Tehran did not feel compelled to reject any or all of the elements as a face-saving gesture if they were made public first.
The nuclear dispute has unsettled jittery oil markets, where traders fear an escalation in the dispute could disrupt supplies from the world’s fourth largest oil exporter. The standoff has helped keep oil prices near record levels above $70 a barrel.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word in state matters, said on Sunday that oil supplies from the region would be in danger if the United States made a “wrong move” — a veiled threat to use oil as a weapon.
Officials had previously said Iran would not resort to such a measure.
Although the United States insists it wants a negotiated resolution to the nuclear standoff, U.S. officials have refused to rule out a military option if diplomacy fails.