The United States has been pushing for binding sanctions against Iran, if Tehran persists with its nuclear program. Washington accuses Iran of seeking to make nuclear bombs under the cover of a civilian program, a charge Iran denies.
Security Council Divided
The problem is that there is no agreement among the permanent Security Council members on possible sanctions against Iran and their enforcement.
Russia and China, which both hold vetoes on the council, have made clear they will not accept any threat to use force against Iran.
Britain, France, and Germany, representing the EU, are reportedly putting together a package for Tehran that may include the offer of a light-water reactor and an assured supply from abroad of fuel for civilian nuclear power plants, so Iran would not have to enrich uranium itself.
Iran has previously indicated it will not accept this.
'The Highest Peak Of Science'
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad today insisted on Iran's right to the full range of nuclear technology, telling a rally in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr, "Using nuclear energy is Iran's right."
In any case, Ahmadinejad claimed, "Iran possesses, from [start to finish], the nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful use."
The Iranian president cautioned what he described as Tehran's "enemies" against attacking his country, saying they would receive a "historic slap."
U.S.-Iran Talks Denied
U.S. President George W. Bush, in comments to reporters on May 23, said the United States was not seeking a military conflict and wanted a peaceful resolution to the impasse with Iran. But he said Tehran had so far shown no will to compromise.
"Obviously, we'd like to solve this issue peacefully and diplomatically, and the more the Iranians refuse to negotiate in good faith, the more countries are beginning to realize that we must continue to work together," Bush said.
Today's talks come amid reports that Iran has been seeking direct talks with the United States. "The Washington Post" reported today that Iran has used intermediaries -- among them UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and International Atomic Energy Agency chief Muhammad el-Baradei -- to deliver the request for a dialogue with the Bush administration.
The White House has previously dismissed calls for direct talks with Tehran on the nuclear issue.
(compiled from agency reports)
Ahmadinejad's Letter To Bush
PRESIDENT TO PRESIDENT: On May 8, the Iranian government announced that President Mahmud Ahmadinejad had sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush. The letter was the first direct communication between leaders of the two countries since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. RFE/RL has posted the English version of Ahmadinejad's letter that was posted on the Iranian president's website.
"The people will scrutinize our presidencies," AHMADINEJAD wrote. "Did we manage to bring peace, security, and prosperity to our people or insecurity and unemployment? Did we intend to establish justice, or just support special-interest groups and -- by forcing many people to live in poverty and hardship -- make a few people rich and powerful, -- thus trading the approval of the people and the Almighty for [that of those few]? Did we bring the world peace and security or did we raise the specter of intimidation and threats?"...(more)
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