Published June 03, 2006
| Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's state-run television said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that a deal on the Islamic republic's nuclear program was possible, if the International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog — agreed to Tehran's right to atomic energy.
Later Saturday, Ahmadinejad said Tehran "won't be in haste to judge" the Western incentives package meant to halt its uranium enrichment program.
"A breakthrough to overcome world problems, including Iran's nuclear case, would be the equal implementation of the law for all," the television quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Annan during a telephone conversation.
Speaking to thousands of people in the capital Tehran at the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Ahmadinejad said, "We won't make any prejudgement about the proposal to be presented to us ... we won't be in haste to judge it."
"We are after negotiations but fair and just negotiations. They must be without any conditions," he said in a speech to mark the anniversary of the death of Khomeini, the founder of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
Six world powers agreed on Thursday to offer Iran a new package of incentives if it gives up uranium enrichment, or sanctions if it refuses. The plan could either defuse a global confrontation with the Islamic regime or hasten one.
The United States warned Iran on Friday that it would not have much time to respond to the international package of rewards, suggesting that the window could close and be replaced by penalties if the Islamic republic doesn't react fast.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is to hand deliver the package to Iranian officials in the next few days.
The U.S. and its allies fear Iran is hiding a nuclear weapons program behind what Tehran claims is research and development of nuclear reactors for electricity generation.
Earlier Saturday Iran made positive noises about finding a negotiated settlement to its dispute with the international community — providing it doesn't have to stop enriching uranium.
The Vatican, meanwhile, insisted that diplomacy was the only tool for resolving the international crisis over Iran's nuclear program.
The Holy See "is firmly convinced that even the present difficulties can and must be overcome through the diplomatic path, using all means which diplomacy can avail itself of," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement.
Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and insists that guarantees it the right to nuclear research for peaceful purposes.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also said Iran was open to a negotiated solution for its nuclear program.
"We think that if there is good will, a breakthrough to get out of a situation they (the European Union and United States) have created for themselves... is possible," Mottaki told a press conference.
"We are waiting to officially receive the proposals. We will make our views known after studying the package," Mottaki said.
"We will also mention if any part of the package is not in Iran's interests," he said, while insisting as well that Iran would not join talks if conditions were attached.
In Belgium, Solana's spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said he was ready to travel to Iran very soon. "The trip is not going to be a negotiating trip, the objective is to present the proposals of the international community," she said.
At an Asian security conference, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that Washington was still hoping for a positive Iranian response to the new incentives package.
"The information has just been communicated to them, and it seems to me the appropriate thing now to do is to wait and see which path the Iranian government will take," Rumsfeld said.
The package, agreed upon Thursday by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, carries the threat of U.N. sanctions if Tehran remains defiant over its nuclear program which the West fears is a cover for producing nuclear weapons. Iran says it is only striving to use nuclear reactors for generating electricity.