Iran Responds to International Offer Over Nuke Program

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Iran delivered its response Friday to an international offer of incentives for it to suspend uranium enrichment, a central part of its nuclear program, state television reported.

The report did not say what the response was.

Iran's ambassador to Belgium presented the response to European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Brussels and Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, spoke with Solana by phone, state TV and Iran's official news agency said.

State television also said Solana and Jalili agreed during the conversation to hold the latest in a series of talks in the second half of July. Solana last met with Iranian officials in mid-June, trying to get Tehran to accept the incentives offer.

A positive response could open the way to renewed negotiations that might help cool recent sharp exchanges between officials on both sides. In recent weeks the U.S. and Iran have traded threats and warnings over possible American or Israeli military action.

Acting on behalf of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, the EU's Solana offered the modified package of economic incentives to Iran during his June visit. The offer is meant to persuade Iran to halt enrichment, which the six world powers fear Iran could use to produce weapons.

Iran has insisted it will not give up enrichment, saying its only aim is to produce nuclear power, not weapons. But it has said the incentives package has some "common ground" with Tehran's own proposals for a resolution to the standoff.

Separately, EU nations also approved new sanctions against Iran in June, imposing additional financial and travel restrictions on a list of Iranian companies and experts, including the country's largest bank.

The six nations — the U.S., China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany — first offered a package of economic, technological and political incentives to Tehran nearly two years ago on condition that it suspend enrichment.

Iran's state radio in an earlier news bulletin quoted Jalili as saying the response would be delivered on Friday. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy with the TV report saying it had already been delivered.

The report by state TV also says Solana thanked Iran for sending the response and for agreeing to more talks.

The standoff has led to increasingly tense exchanges about the possibility of a military strike by Israel or the U.S.

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said in remarks published Friday that Iran would consider any military action against its nuclear facilities as the beginning of a war.

"Iran's response to any military action will make the invaders regret their decision and action," Jafari said late Thursday, according to the IRNA news agency.

In a newspaper interview last week, Jafari warned that if attacked, Iran would barrage Israel with missiles and choke off the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a narrow outlet for oil tankers leaving the Persian Gulf.

However, the general was also quoted as saying that he thinks a strike by Iran's adversaries is unlikely.

Iran's top diplomat, Manouchehr Mottaki, told The Associated Press in New York on Wednesday that the United States and Israel would not risk the "craziness" of attacking his country and possibly provoking a wider Middle East war or driving oil prices into uncharted heights.

An Israeli military exercise last month was seen as a warning to Iran.

Mottaki called the speculation of a military strike part of "psychological warfare," according to Friday's IRNA report.