U.S.: Iranian offer to halt nuclear program if West does is 'false'
On eve of UN deadline to halt enrichment, Iran president says talks must be without preconditions.
The White House on Tuesday brushed off Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's proposition to close down nuclear fuel production facilities if the United States and its allies do the same, calling it a "false offer."
"That is a false offer because the position of the international community is clear," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.
The international community was "perfectly happy to help Iran acquire civilian nuclear power" but had made it clear Tehran should not have nuclear weapons, and the United States was committed to resolving the issue through diplomacy, he said.
"But the offer that the Iranians need to make is to suspend activity that could lead to the enrichment of nuclear material that could be used in creating a bomb," Snow said.
Ahmadinejad had told a rally broadcast on Iranian state television that, "If they say that we should close down our fuel production facilities to resume talks, we say fine, but those who enter talks with us should also close down their nuclear fuel production facilities."
Ahmadinejad told a crowd of thousands in northern Iran that it was no problem for his country to stop, as long as Western nations did the same.
"Justice demands that those who want to hold talks with us shut down their nuclear fuel cycle program too," he said. "Then, we can hold dialogue under a fair atmosphere."
The Iranian president also said that Iran wanted talks over its nuclear program, but would not accept preconditions to freeze uranium enrichment as demanded by a UN Security Council resolution.
"They tell us 'come and negotiate on Iran's nuclear issue but the condition is to stop your activities.' We have said that we want negotiations and talks but negotiations under just conditions," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast on state television.
Iranian official: Tehrans wants to renew nuclear talksTehran wants new talks on its nuclear program, a senior Iranian official said Tuesday, the eve of a United Nations Security Council deadline for his country to stop uranium enrichment or face the threat of harsher sanctions.
"We are looking for ways and means to start negotiations," said Ali Larijani, Iran's senior nuclear negotiator, as he headed into talks with Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Asked what his side was seeking, Larijani replied: "Constructive dialogue that could ... address the concerns both of Tehran and of the world powers fearing that Iran wanted to use enrichment to develop nuclear arms.