World Focus: Iran's stalling on nuclear compromise will only hand ammunition to hawks
Monday 21 July 2008
Iran has handed ammunition to American and Israeli hawks by delaying its response to a Western offer of technological and political incentives intended to curb Iranian nuclear ambitions. At the highest-level meeting involving US and Iranian officials in almost 30 years held in Geneva on Saturday, Iran dashed expectations of a compromise that would avert the imposition of further sanctions and possible military confrontation.
Instead of giving a clear answer to the proposals from the big powers, the Iranian delegation head, Saeed Jalili, skirted round the issue continuously, according to diplomats at the talks. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief who led the delegation of senior officials from Britain, the US, France, Germany, Russia and China, unsuccessfully pressed Mr Jalili for a response over lunch.
The meeting ended with Iran being given a two-week deadline to respond to "freeze for freeze" proposals which promise that moves towards further UN sanctions – which could cover plants and spare parts for the Iranian oil and gas sectors – would be halted if Tehran agrees to suspend sensitive nuclear activities.
However, Iran repeated that it would not yield to UN demands to suspend uranium enrichment. The Western governments fear the process could be used to produce fuel for a nuclear bomb even though Iran says its intentions are peaceful.
"It's a big opportunity missed," said one diplomat, who predicted that the EU would bring in financial sanctions against Tehran in the coming days, while the big powers keep alive the threat of further UN moves.
Reflecting the increased Western frustration at the stalemate, Gordon Brown will tell the Israeli Knesset today that Iran has "a clear choice to make."
The US decided to despatch its third-ranking State Department official, William Burns, to Geneva in a policy shift after Iran raised expectations that it would respond to the package delivered by Mr Solana in Tehran last month.
Mr Jalili's failure to engage could be an indication that the multi-headed Iranian leadership remains divided on strategy. If so, their divisions reflect those in the Bush administration, where the debate over the use of force as opposed to a diplomatic solution for Iran is now certain to intensify.
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...