Bush should not be in a hurry, says Iranian FM

Iran Materials 23 June 2006 15:12 (UTC +04:00)

(IranMania) - Iran told US President George W Bush not to rush it into providing an answer to the offer by major world powers over its uranium enrichment rogramme, AFP reported.

"President Bush cannot and must not be in a rush," said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on a visit to Rome.

"When (European Union foreign policy chief) Javier Solana gave us his suggestions on June 6 no time limit was set", he told Italian television, reports Trend.

Earlier in the day Bush had said at a United States-EU meeting in Vienna that Iran should not need until late August 22 -- the date given by Iranian

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to respond to the offer by the world's major powers of a deal designed to secure guarantees that Tehran's nuclear programme is peaceful.

"It seems like an awful long time for a reasonable proposal," the US leader said. "It shouldn't take the Iranians that long to analyse what is a reasonable deal."

"The only undertaking required from Iran is not to divulge the content of the offer as long as an agreement has not been reached and we respect that commitment," Mottaki said.

The proposal had "many ambiguities. It is right for Iran to study the document seriously and precisely until August 22."

Mottaki's brief visit to Rome included a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema, who said his country backed the negotiating position of the EU over Iran's nuclear programme and urged Tehran to overcome any reservations about reopening negotiations.

Earlier Iran had dismissed a warning by Bush of stronger sanctions if Tehran did not bow to international demands over its nuclear programme, which it says is purely designed to produce atomic energy but which the West fears could be a cover for the development of nuclear weapons.

"Bush's language is not acceptable and does not fit in with our cooperation with Europe," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

On Monday, Bush turned up the pressure on Tehran, warning of "progressively stronger political and economic sanctions" if it refused to freeze sensitive nuclear activities in return for talks.

Bush signalled that suspending uranium enrichment and reprocessing was not negotiable.

"If Iran's leaders want peace and prosperity and a more hopeful future for their people, they should accept our offer, abandon any ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons and come into compliance with their international obligations," he said.

The suspension of uranium enrichment is a non-negotiable precondition set out in the proposal made to Iran by the five permanent UN Security Council members, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany.

The offer, presented to Iran on June 6, involves incentives and multilateral talks if Iran agrees to temporarily halt the sensitive nuclear activity and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Asefi denied Tehran had been set a deadline to respond to the offer.

In Vienna however, diplomats have said the EU's Solana told Iran the world powers expected an answer to their offer by June 29, although others said the timing remained flexible.

"Expert work is being carried out in specialised committees and good progress has been made. But there cannot be any time predicted for the submission of our response," Asefi said.