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Iran Tones Down Response to Threats

Facing possible sanctions in the near future, Iran has toned down its responses to American and European threats concerning its nuclear plan. A top Iranian negotiator underlined Monday night that the path of talks and diplomacy with the European Union on Iran’s nuclear program remained open, reported Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

“Today’s [Monday] meeting provided a good chance and opportunity to continue the talks between the two sides,” said deputy head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Javad Vaeedi.

Vaeedi made his comments after talks with senior officials from France, Germany, the UK (EU-3) and the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Brussels. He added that Iran’s nuclear program should be dealt with in the confines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and that the diplomatic path should not be closed.

Nevertheless only a few hours later, representatives of the United Nations Security Council – including Russia and China – announced that the Security Council will hold discussions on Iran’s nuclear program in March. According to their statement, the IAEA has been asked to transfer a report on Iran’s nuclear plans to the Security Council by March 2006.

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reiterated during a press conference on Monday, that the use of force against Iran was not a prospect, and that a Security Council referral does not signify that diplomatic means to resolve the crisis are nearing exhaustion.

“As to military issues, we have said that it is not on the agenda, because we believe that there is a lot of life left in the diplomacy. There is a diplomatic solution for the taking. After all, going to the Security Council is not the end of diplomacy, it’s just diplomacy in a different, more robust context. But the President of the United States doesn’t take his options off the table,” concluded Rice.