06/12/2006, 00.00
IRAN - UNITED NATIONS - EUROPEAN UNION
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Skeptics in Vienna doubt deal on Iranian nuclear programme

At the IAEA meeting, Director-General Mohamed El Baradei says there have been little progress. Tehran insists it won't negotiate its rights but calls proposals a "step forward".

Vienna (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Iran might not have officially communicated its decision yet, but skepticism seems to prevail among the participants to the meetings of the 35-member Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) whichtoday opened its season's meeting in Vienna, Austria. IAEA Director-General Mohamed El Baradei has in fact said that the UN nuclear watchdog has "not made much progress in resolving outstanding verification issues" over Iran's nuclear programme.

The US envoy to the IAEA, Gregory Schulte, echoed El Baradei's views saying: "We are not looking for a decision at this week's board." Referring to the five permanent members of the UN security Council plus Germany, he said that the "next decision is to be taken not in Vienna but in Tehran."

The "package" of incentives by the 5+1 group that was presented by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana offers Iran economic aid as well as political recognition in exchange for an end to its uranium enrichment programme. But it also warns Tehran of possible sanctions in case of a refusal.

Although Iranian government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham is quoted by Iranian state-owned news agency, IRNA, as saying that Tehran considers the package presented to Iran by the six powers as a "step forward", something "[w]e are discussing . . . . [and] will examine . . . in full and give our decision," he seems to be also hinting that in the end it will be rejected. In fact he stressed: "We will not negotiate with anyone on our inalienable and legal rights but we are ready to hold talks on all international issues and those of common concern". El Baradei agreed it was necessary to build up confidence that Iran's nuclear programme was exclusively peaceful.

However, the waiting period should not last too long. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi is quoted in Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) saying that Iran was not trying to delay its answer to the nuclear offer. "Naturally," he said, "when we have prepared our comments and suggestions to the package we will announce our answer."

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