Tuesday, August 22, 2006

So much for Doomsday.

Iran Formally Responds To Nuclear Incentives Package

Iran formally responded today (August 22nd) to a package of Western incentives aimed at persuading the country to give up its nuclear program. Early details about the contents of Iran's response were vague, but officials said it offered a, quote, "new formula" to resolve the dispute over the program, with Tehran's top nuclear negotiator saying the response opened the door for serious negotiations to resume.

The response was hand-delivered to ambassadors from England, Russia, China, France, Germany and Switzerland. The latter nation represented the U.S., which has no embassy or official diplomatic relations with Iran. The package was offered to Iran in June in order to halt the country's uranium enrichment program. Tehran has said that the program is peaceful and geared only toward generating power, while the U.S. has suspected that it's being used to develop nuclear weapons.

Before issuing the formal response, Iran showed little signs of giving up the program. On Monday (August 21st), its top religious leader declared that the country would continue its nuclear activities as it turned away International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from an underground uranium enrichment site. It was not clear whether the new Iranian response addressed the enrichment program, which the West has said it must halt as part of the incentives package.

If Iran does not suspend the enrichment program, it faces possible sanctions from the U.N. Security Council, although the Council's five permanent members -- China, Russia, France, England and the U.S. -- differ on how far those sanctions could go. Iran has said that sanctions are illegal and that only talks will resolve the issue. The U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said that the United States would, quote, "study the Iranian response carefully."

Talk about anti-climatic.

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