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EU's Solana due in Tehran to submit N-proposal

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is expected to submit an international nuclear proposal to Iran's leadership.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 14:40 IST

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is expected in Tehran late on Monday to submit an international nuclear proposal to Iran's leadership, official and diplomatic sources said.

The proposal, agreed on last week by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, offers Iran incentives and fresh multilateral talks -- involving the United States -- on the condition that Iran first suspends uranium enrichment.

"Solana will arrive in Tehran tonight," a source close to the visit said. Official sources indicated he was likely hand the proposal to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday.

"He will be engaged in protocol, not negotiations," a diplomat said.

Iran's uranium enrichment programme is at the centre of fears the country could make nuclear weapons.

Iran has so far refused to suspend enrichment, arguing such fuel cycle work is for peaceful purposes only and is therefore a right enshrined by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But the Islamic republic's hardline leadership has nevertheless agreed to study the offer of trade, security and technology benefits.

The offer from the six world powers is accompanied by a threat of robust UN Security Council action -- including possible sanctions -- if Iran fails to halt enrichment.

Diplomats told AFP that the United States has moved to sweeten the offer to Iran by offering to lift some of its trade sanctions.

The United States is proposing "lifting sanctions partially, not only waiving sanctions but actually lifting them," in an agreement to be worked out in multilateral talks that would start once Iran suspended uranium enrichment, a senior Western diplomat said in Vienna.

Washington, which considers Iran a sponsor of terrorism and now fears it is covertly developing nuclear weapons, has since the mid-1990's banned most US trade and investment with the Islamic Republic.

Lifting sanctions would allow sales to Iran of things like agricultural technology and commercial planes to replace the country's dilapidated fleet.

US officials have said they want to keep the details of the proposal secret in order to avoid the appearance of threatening Iran.

But a string of tough comments from Iranian officials have signalled that the offer could prove to be dead of arrival.

On Saturday, hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed that in a telephone conversation earlier on Saturday with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, he had been asked "to examine the proposals and not act hastily."

"I said that we will not act hastily and that we will examine the proposals," Ahmadinejad said.

But the president has also ruled out halting enrichment, saying, "Negotiating our absolute right would be like accepting to negotiate on our independence."

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that his country would not buckle in the face of "threats and bribes".

"We have achieved a lot of scientific goals," Khamenei said in a speech marking the 17th anniversary of the death of Iran's Islamic revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"This is an historic investment. It represents our political independence and national self- confidence. We should not sell out this precious resource because of the enemies' threats and we should not be fooled by enemy bribes," he said.