WASHINGTON – Iran’s response to an incentives package aimed at defusing a dispute over its nuclear program is unacceptable, U.S. officials said Tuesday, making the prospect of new sanctions against the country more likely.
The officials told the Associated Press that a one-page document Iran presented to European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Brussels is not, as had been sought, a definitive reply to the offer from major world powers to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing in exchange for economic and other benefits.
Instead, the officials said it was a restatement of Tehran’s earlier insistence on the right to conduct peaceful nuclear activities and essentially a transcription of portions of recent telephone conversations between Solana and chief Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili.
One official described it as “more obfuscation and delay” to the package, which was presented earlier this year by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany.
In Brussels, an E.U. diplomat said the Iranian reply was being analyzed and would be discussed “very soon” by Solana and senior diplomats from the six countries that made the offer – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
The State Department said those diplomats would hold a conference call today to discuss the way ahead, and the U.S. officials said a discussion of new sanctions on Iran could begin as early as then.