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Iran to disclose "serious proposals" to defuse nuclear tension
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09:19, April 30, 2008

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With tensions heightening over Iran's thorny nuclear issue, Tehran has decided to unveil a package of proposals to defuse its nuclear row with the West, which accuses the Islamic country of seeking to produce nuclear weapons.

Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said on Monday that the Islamic Republic has prepared a package of "serious proposals" aimed at solving world problems, including the nuclear standoff with the West.

"Iran ... has serious proposals regarding the nuclear issue, about what to do to minimize the nuclear threat around the world," he said after talks with a visiting Russian delegation.

Jalili, who is also Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator, said the package bears proposals on reducing nuclear threats to the least possible degree, prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation, promotion of nuclear cooperation among different countries and other international issues.

Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili (L) welcomes Valentin Sobolev (2nd R), acting secretary of Russia's National Security Council, during an official meeting in Tehran April 28, 2008.

He said that the ideas addressed security and political issues and would underpin "talks among influential and major powers, and Iran as a major power in the region can play an important role."

"The package potentially can be the topic for discussion with influential countries," the top nuclear negotiator added.

A senior diplomat in Europe said that Iran had earlier proposed turning its Natanz enrichment complex into a multilateral operation to counter foreign fears of diversions to bomb making there, and that this might be among Iran's proposals.

No further details about the content of the package have been unveiled.

The proposed package was discussed with Valentin Sobolev, acting secretary of the Russian Security Council, who arrived in Tehran on Sunday evening for a two-day visit.

Sobolev also met on Monday with Iran's Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, to discuss prospects for cooperation of the two countries in the nuclear sphere.

"Iran's package of proposals is not addressed to one specific country. It is a comprehensive plan with broad proposals. The spirit of the plan is that Iran is prepared to cooperate with all its capacity to resolve the remaining issues," Aghazadeh told a news conference.

According to Aghazadeh, the "comprehensive plan" will be submitted to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Also on Monday, Olli Heinonen, Deputy Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), arrived in Tehran to discuss Iran's controversial nuclear program.

His second visit in two weeks comes only days after the IAEA said that it had reached a "milestone" agreement with Iran that aims to provide answers to allegations that Tehran has tried to develop nuclear weapons.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said Sunday that Iran was willing to discuss any issue with the UN nuclear watchdog but maintained the country had already answered all outstanding questions about its nuclear program.

However, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, stressed earlier that any package of proposals unveiled by Tehran would maintain Iran's enrichment right.

The United States and its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program.

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, has denied the charges and insisted that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

The UN Security Council has imposed three sanctions against Tehran since Dec. 2006.

On April 16, officials from the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany convened in Shanghai, China, to discuss a plan to restart talks on Iran's nuclear issue.

Those countries are considering enhancing a package of political, security and economic incentives in return for Iran's halting uranium enrichment. Iran has said that it would not trade its rights for incentives.

U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this month pledged a united effort to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, possibly by expanding sanctions.

Russia, a key ally to Iran in its nuclear standoff with the West, has repeatedly urged the West to solve the crisis through diplomacy. However, it has also supported all three UN resolutions when it came to a vote at the UN Security Council.

Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr. It is also contracted to supply the nuclear fuel for the facility.


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