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Iran Says Snubbed By Six Powers On Nuclear Offer

Mohammad Khazai

Mohammad Khazai

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- Iran's UN ambassador has said that six world powers have never responded to Tehran's proposal for negotiations without preconditions aimed at resolving its nuclear standoff with the West.

Instead, Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazai told a meeting of the UN General Assembly, a small group of countries continued to insist that Iran halt its uranium-enrichment program, a demand that he said violated international law.

"The 5+1 Group has yet to provide its response to Iran's proposed package," he said, referring to a proposal for talks delivered in May to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

"The policy of few powers in insisting on suspension as a precondition for negotiations bears zero relation to realities and is an irrational and failed policy," Khazai said.

He said that instead of imposing economic penalties on Tehran, which has been hit with three rounds of UN sanctions, "a solution that is based on realities...should be pursued."

The proposal of Iran, which Western countries suspect is amassing the capability to produce nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program, was intended to counter the six powers' offer of economic and political incentives in exchange for a suspension of enrichment work.

But the Iranian counteroffer to China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States ignored the Western demand for halting enrichment. U.S. and European officials dismissed the Iranian proposal and Russia has described it as disappointing, though the six never formally rejected it.

Enrichment Consortium

In the counterproposal, Iran called for cooperation to combat "common security threats" such as terrorism, "militarism," and drugs, and for developing international uranium-enrichment consortiums in various countries, including Iran, to foster nuclear energy for development.

Tehran has suggested such a consortium on its soil before, ostensibly to defuse fears it might covertly divert enrichment technology to bomb-making. But Western powers have rejected the idea, mistrusting Iran over its record of nuclear secrecy.

Khazai dismissed suggestions that Iran's nuclear ambitions were anything but peaceful and made clear that Tehran had no intention of compromising on the issue of uranium enrichment.

"The demand for the suspension of enrichment is illegal...and in contravention of the provisions of the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty]," he said. "The Iranian nation will never accept illegal demands."

Muhammad el-Baradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, told the assembly his inspectors were not in a position to verify that Iran is not engaged in any secret nuclear activities.

In comments that echoed ones he made last month to the IAEA board of governors, el-Baradei said Iran should help the agency clarify intelligence reports alleging it had previously engaged in research on how to manufacture an atomic weapon.

Khazai dismissed the intelligence reports, which the IAEA received from the United States and several other countries.

"What has been characterized as alleged studies [of nuclear weapons] are nothing but fabricated documents given to the agency by a certain country," he said, adding that Tehran has never received copies of the intelligence reports.