TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Thursday rejected any deadline to give a final response to a package drawn up by world powers seeking to end the nuclear crisis and said there should be more negotiations to reach a deal.
“The language of deadline-setting is not understandable to us. We gave them our response within a month as we said we would, now they have to reply to us,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters, according to the official IRNA news agency.
Mottaki said Iran and representatives of the major powers had agreed at a July 19 meeting in Geneva to find common ground on both sides’ proposals aimed at ending the five-year standoff over Tehran’s nuclear drive.
“Both sides said that in future meetings they should work on the communalities of both frameworks in a constructive way to reach an agreement that satisfies both sides, otherwise Iran’s constructive activities will take their natural course,” he was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
Iran on July 4 handed major powers what it said was its “constructive and creative” response to their offer presented by EU foreign policy envoy Javier Solana in June aimed at persuading Tehran to halt sensitive nuclear work.
However, Tehran’s arch-foe, the United States, insisted on Wednesday that Iran must give an answer on Saturday, warning of consequences of any defiance by the Islamic republic.
The package, drawn up by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany offers Tehran technology and negotiations if it suspends uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make atomic weapons.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili held further talks with Solana on July 19, at a meeting that was also attended by a top US diplomat in a major policy shift by Washington on the nuclear issue.
Solana said then that he expected an answer in a fortnight, but Tehran has since said there was no ultimatum or a deadline, just an agreement that it would examine the proposal during the two weeks.
“Perhaps based on incorrect analysis, some of the Geneva participants got the wrong expectation, but our job was to give our views to the 5+1 framework… then we gave our own framework,” Mottaki said.
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Wednesday that there were “consequences diplomatically for defying the just demands of the Security Council.”
Iran has already been slapped with three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt enrichment, a process which makes nuclear fuel but can also be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb.
It insists it has the right to nuclear technology as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and denies Western claims it is seeking to build atomic weapons.
And on Wednesday, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic republic will not retreat on its nuclear drive
“Taking one step back against arrogant (powers) will lead to them to take one step forward,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by state television.