Iran Nuke Negotiator Urges West to Halt Pressure

Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Friday that the West's pressure for a quick response to its offer of incentives for Tehran to halt its nuclear program is not helpful, but insisted the standoff can be resolved through dialogue.

"We do not need them to give us a deadline for answering. That pressure creates an atmosphere of lack of confidence and doubt among the two sides," Ali Larijani told a news conference in Madrid after meeting with senior Spanish officials.

"The Iranian nuclear issue is not so complicated that it cannot be solved through dialogue," Larijani said.

"This proposal has many doubts," he said. "Through dialogue we have to resolve the doubts."

CountryWatch: Iran

He said Iran is optimistic about prospects for resolving the standoff but would not say when it might respond to the package of incentives.

Tehran has asserted repeatedly that its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating power. But the U.S. and the European Union fear it is a cover for the development of nuclear weapons.

Europe could enhance Iranian confidence in the nuclear talks by ending restrictions on exports of some industrial equipment to Iran, Larijani said. "There are many areas in which confidence can be created," he said.

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, traveled to Tehran last month with the offer of incentives if Iran agrees to halt its uranium enrichment program and return to negotiations.

On Thursday, Larijani met with Solana in Brussels, Belgium, and said his country remains serious about continuing negotiations.

Those talks were "constructive and fruitful," the Iranian official said Friday.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany drafted the offer, which includes sharing civilian nuclear expertise and technology. The six nations have pushed for a response from Iran, but have yet to receive one.

Solana and Larijani are to meet again Tuesday in Brussels.

Western diplomats have threatened to restart efforts to punish Iran through possible U.N. sanctions unless Tehran stops enrichment and agrees to talks.