Saturday, July 19, 2008

Iran Given Two Weeks to Accept Freeze-on-Freeze Compromise

EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana Announcing
Iran’s Non-Response to Freeze-on-Freeze Compromise
Geneva. Saturday 19 July 2008. Reuters photo

World major powers today gave Iran two weeks to accept the “freeze-on-freeze” compromise as a start to end the nuclear standoff. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, was not ready to accept the offer at the Geneva meeting, attended by US Undersecretary of State William Burns.

The freeze-on-freeze compromise requires Iran not to expand its current level of uranium enrichment for a period of six weeks, while the UN and the West would not impose any new sanctions on Iran. During this confidence-building period, preliminary talks on a long-term solution to the nuclear standoff will take place.

Iran was expected to accept the compromise during the meeting in Geneva today. Now it has two weeks to accept the freeze-on-freeze approach. Iran could be subjected to new sanctions at the end of the two-week period.

"The Iranians know very well what will continue to happen (with further sanctions)," European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said after talks with Jalili.

The inconclusive outcome of Geneva meeting dimmed hopes of a quick turnaround in nuclear talks.

UPDATE: State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said after the Geneva meeting that Iranian leaders need to choose between nuclear cooperation or confrontation.

McCormack added that Undersecretary of State William Burns delivered a "clear simple message" that Washington was "serious" in backing proposed international incentives for Iran to halt uranium enrichment and that it will only engage in negotiations with Iran when it does so

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