Iran presents proposals as West ups nuclear pressure

Wed Sep 9, 2009 2:37pm EDT
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By Fredrik Dahl and Reza Derakhshi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran handed a package of proposals to world powers on Wednesday, as it came under renewed Western pressure to swiftly engage in "meaningful" talks to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program.

Tehran says its proposals address "various global issues" and represent a "new opportunity for talks and cooperation." But it was not clear what the proposals were and whether they would be enough to avert the threat of further sanctions on Iran.

The United States voiced hope that Iran's proposals would be constructive and said it intended to study them carefully.

"We hope that what is contained in that response is a serious, substantive and constructive response to the ... proposal," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told reporters after a meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

"We will study the content carefully."

Hours before the package was handed to representatives of world powers in Iran, the United States said the Islamic Republic was moving closer to being able to make atomic bombs by stockpiling enriched uranium.

"We have serious concerns that Iran is deliberately attempting, at a minimum, to preserve a nuclear weapons option," U.S. envoy Glyn Davies told a meeting of the 35-nation governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"Iran is now either very near or in possession already of sufficient low-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon if the decision were made to further enrich it to weapons-grade," Davies said at the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog body.   Continued...

<p>Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki (L) hands over its package of proposals to ambassadors of countries in the Group of 5+1, in Tehran September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi</p>