Iran Ready To Enter 'Serious' Talks
This Tuesday, May 22, 2012, photo, provided by David Thornburg shows a plume of smoke rising from the Whitewater fire burning in the Gila Wilderness east of Glenwood, N.M. Fire managers said the blaze had charred more than 10,000 acres before merging Wednesday afternoon with the nearby 11,500-acre Baldy fire. Both fires were sparked by lightning. (AP Photo/David Thornburg) / David Thornburg
Ali Larijani, the country's top nuclear negotiator, delivered a written response to ambassadors of Britain, China, Russia, France, Germany and Switzerland to a package of incentives aimed at persuading Iran to roll back on its nuclear program.
Larijani refused to disclose whether the response included an offer to suspend uranium enrichment, and no details of Iran's response were released. The state-run television quoted Larijani as telling the diplomats Iran "is prepared as of Aug. 23rd to enter serious negotiations" with the countries that proposed the incentives package.
But the semi-official Fars news agency reported that Iran rejected calls to suspend "nuclear activities" — or uranium enrichment — and "instead has offered a new formula to resolve the issues through dialogue."
Administration officials believe that by offering to talk, Iran is playing for time — and trying to give its trading partners Russia and China a good excuse to vote against sanctions in the U.N. Security Council, reports CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante.
Iran delivered its response to the incentives offer nine days before a Security Council deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment or face economic and political sanctions.
The White House deferred comment on the Iranian government's response.
"The Security Council's deadline is Aug. 31. I'm not going to parse the Iranian government's document today here on the airplane," White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said on Air Force One as President Bush flew to an appearance in Minnesota. "That is a job best left to the diplomats."
She said the U.S. government has received a copy of the document, but that she doesn't believe the president had seen it yet.
"We are aware of the rhetoric that has been coming out of the regime about a nuclear program and the president made very clear to everyone yesterday in his press conference that he thinks that that would be a mistake and dangerous for the region and the whole world," she added. "So let's let the diplomats take a look at this response before we parse it out too much here."
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said the Iranian document was "extensive" and required "a detailed and careful analysis." He did not elaborate or provide any details.
In New York, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said Washington will "study the Iranian response carefully" but was prepared to move forward with sanctions against Tehran if its response to the incentives package was not positive.
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