US officials said last night that they were still awaiting concrete signs that Iran was ready to accede to demands that it cease its uranium enrichment programmes, despite reports from Tehran that the regime had fresh proposals to resolve the continuing standoff with the West.
The chief nuclear negotiator in Iran, Saeed Jalili, was quoted as saying that the government of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was ready with an "updated nuclear proposal" to settle concerns of the US and other governments. However, Western officials were dubious about Iran's intentions, noting that the comments came on the eve of a meeting of the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, to be held near Frankfurt tomorrow, where another round of sanctions is to be mooted.
There was "not a hint of substance" in the reports out of Tehran, one official said, adding that it looked as if they were "timed to split" the unity of the Security Council on Iran sanctions. US President Barack Obama has offered to engage with Iran but has also said that Iran can expect a new round of sanctions if it does not come up with plans to answer the demands that it cease all enrichment activities.
Robert Gibbs, a White House spokesman, was non-committal. "We've seen the reports, though we have not heard anything conclusively from the Iranians on that". He said that Mr Obama's offer of talks was "still out there, it is still waiting for a response".
The outgoing director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei said that he still "has not seen concrete evidence that Tehran has an ongoing nuclear weapons programme".