04/16/2009, 00.00
IRAN – UNITED STATES

US open to dialogue but still wants Tehran to stop nuclear programme

Secretary Clinton’s response to Ahmadinejad’s nuclear proposal is conciliatory but firm on Iran’s nuclear programme. US Defence secretary warns Israelis against attacking Iranian nuclear facilities.

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The United States has said it would welcome dialogue with Iran but has not dropped its demand for Tehran to halt its uranium enrichment activities. At the same time, Washington is warning Israel against attacking Iranian nuclear facilities, arguing that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear bomb can only be prevented if Tehran decides “it's too costly.”

The statement about US openness to the “new proposal” made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about his country’s nuclear programme came from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

She was responding to a speech Iranian President Ahmadinejad delivered yesterday in the southern province of Kerman, where he said that “Iran will hold discussions based on this new package which guarantees peace and justice in the world”.

In a report Iranian new agency Fars said that the Iranian leader was preparing a new package of proposals to the 5+1 Group (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States—plus Germany) with whom Iran has been engaged in nuclear talks.

At the same time Ahmadinejad called on what he described as the bullying powers to change their tone and attitude towards other nations.

“No power will have the ability to impose (its aspirations) on our nation any more,” the Iranian president had said.

Meanwhile US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned Israeli leaders against any attack on Iranian nuclear installations to stop Iran from building an atomic bomb, a possibility often raised in Israel.

Speaking to students at the Marines Corps University in Quantico, Virginia, Gates said that whilst an Israeli strike could delay the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme by one to three years, it would also “cement their (Iranians) determination to have a nuclear program, and also build into the whole country an undying hatred of whoever hits them.”

For Gates Tehran's acquisition of a nuclear bomb could only be prevented if “Iranians themselves decide it's too costly,” the Los Angeles Times reported today.

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