2A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 14, 2005
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran scoffed at U.S. incentives aimed at coaxing
the Islamic republic to drop its nuclear ambitions and declared Saturday that
Washington's overtures did nothing to change Tehran's plans to push ahead
with its nuclear program.
An Iranian envoy in Europe, however, acknowledged in guardedly posi-
tive terms that there appeared to be a "new awakening" in Washington.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said neither threats nor
incentives would alter Iran's determination to develop peaceful nuclear
technology. Washington insists Tehran's uranium enrichment program is
designed to build a nuclear weapon, not merely to provide an alternative
Tehran issued its defiant response a day after the Bush administration
softened its stance on how to thwart Iran's nuclear development and agreed
to support a European plan that offers economic incentives for Iran to give
up any weapons ambitions.
The U.S. concessions, announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice, include an end to American opposition to Iran's application for
membership in the World Trade Organization and a partial lifting of
the ban on sales of some spare parts for Iran's civilian aircraft. Rice
signaled that Iran should quickly accept - or face the threat of harsh
United Nations Security Council sanctions.
Asefi said Rice's offer was no offer at all.
"The restrictions on spare parts that have no military purpose should have
not been imposed from the beginning, and lifting them is not an incentive,"
state-run radio quoted Asefi as saying.
And, he said, "joining the WTO is an obvious right of any country
in the world."
Washington previously had insisted Iran deserved no reward for simply
abiding by an international arms compact that forbids nuclear weapons
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who was in Caracas, Venezu-
ela, on a three-day visit, said his country is ready "to cooperate with the
world to give more certainty that Iran is not moving toward the creation of
nuclear arms" but insisted it has a right to nuclear technology.
"Now it is different than in the last century, when the great powers could
have all (technology) exclusively," said Khatami, who held talks with Ven-
ezuelan President Hugo Chavez and signed a series of commercial accords.
"We have to be strong to strike (back) ... to defend ourselves from
the dangers of those who want to invade us," Khatami said, without
State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said Saturday the United States
concerned about Iran's nuclear ambitions.
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