Iran Responds to Nuclear Incentives Package

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BRUSSELS — Iran responded to incentives aimed at defusing a dispute over the country’s nuclear program today, the State Department and an EU diplomat said, adding that the response will now be studied by the six nations that devised the package.

At Washington, the State Department said it had received a copy of the Iranian response by e-mail from the office of the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and would study it ahead of a conference call tomorrow.

“We’re going to take a look at it,” a spokesman, Gonzalo Gallegos, told reporters, adding that America and its partners would move to impose new sanctions unless Iran’s response was an unambiguous acceptance of the offer.

America and its European allies fear Iran intends to use the technology to develop material for nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear power program. Iran denies the accusation.

The U.N. Security Council has already adopted three sets of sanctions against Iran. America the European Union, as well as individual E.U. members have imposed their own financial measures against Iranian entities and individuals.

“We are looking for a clear, positive response from Iran and in the absence of that we’re going to have no choice but to pursue further measures against them,” Mr. Gallegos said.

Mr. Gallegos declined to characterize the contents of the Iranian document.

An EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the response has not yet been read analyzed, said Mr. Solana had spoken by telephone with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

On July 19, the six nations — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and America — set an informal two-week deadline for Iran to either accept or reject a package of economic incentives in return for curbing its uranium enrichment.

On Sunday, President Ahmadinejad said diplomacy was the only way out of the standoff and insisted he was serious about negotiations. Those comments came a day after he asserted his country would not give up its “nuclear rights,” signaling that it would refuse demands to stop enriching uranium or at least not to expand its enrichment work.

Also Saturday, Secretary of State Rice said America would have no choice “but to begin again to prepare sanctions resolutions for the Security Council” if Iran did not halt the development of its enrichment program.

____

Associated Press Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington.


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