Last week Iran was told that an answer to the P5+1 proposal on its nuclear program was expected at a meeting scheduled for this week in Brussels between EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.  --  But on the day the meeting was scheduled, Iran announced that Larijani had postponed his trip to Brussels, the Financial Times of London reported Thursday.[1]  --  China's People's Daily Online reported that the meeting would proceed one day later, but that Larijani had already said he would not deliver an Iranian reponse to last month's offer at the meeting because it was "not reasonable" to formulate a response so quickly.[2]  --  Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that Iran said that fear of an assassination attempt on Ali Larijani was the reason for the delay, not, as elsewhere reported, a visit to Strasbourg by representatives of a group Iran considers to be a terrorist group.[3]  --  DPA reported that "The international community has set July 12 as the deadline for a response from Iran to the incentives package"; following Jun. 29 and Jul. 5, this is the third time a deadline has been mentioned.  --  (When the P5+1 offer was originally made, it should be noted, no deadline of any kind was included.  --  Iran has promised a response by Aug. 22.) ...



Middle East & Africa

By Daniel Dombey (Brussels) and Sarah Laitner (Strasbourg)

Financial Times (UK)
July 6, 2006

The international outcry over North Korea's missile tests yesterday came as attempts continued to find a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

The day began with news that Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, had postponed a trip to Brussels.

The move may make it more difficult to forge an international consensus should Tehran reject an offer to scale down its nuclear program.

While North Korea has boasted that it has nuclear weapons and has withdrawn from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Iran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful and that it continues to observe the NPT's binding commitments.

But the two countries were forever linked in President George W. Bush's 2002 denunciation of an "axis of evil" and Tehran, like Pyongyang, has shown it can buck international pressure, in the short run at least.

North Korea is so isolated that sanctions are unlikely to deter it. Iran is confident that Russia and China's misgivings mean it will avoid such penalties.

And Western officials, such as the former British foreign secretary Jack Straw, believe that U.S. military action against Iran is becoming as "inconceivable" as a strike against Pyongyang, which has South Korea in its sights. Hence the self-confidence of Tehran and Pyongyang.

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy representative, said he was "surprised" at the delay to yesterday's meeting, which will be replaced by a dinner between Mr. Solana and Mr. Larijani today and a more substantive encounter on July 11.

Some diplomats said Mr. Larijani had delayed his trip because of Tehran's anger at a visit to the European parliament by the political wing of what the EU classifies as an Iranian terrorist group. His move also gives the world's big powers less time to strike a common stance on Iran's nuclear program ahead of the Group of Eight summit in just over a week.

The July 15-17 summit represents the best chance for the U.S. and the EU, which fear Iran may be moving towards developing a nuclear weapon, to win the support of other countries in response to a possible Iranian rejection of the offer.

But Iran has repeatedly insisted that it intends to make its formal response only in August -- well after the G8 meeting.

Foreign ministers from France, the U.K., Germany, the U.S., Russia, and China are due to meet on July 12, in an attempt to fix a common line ahead of the G8 summit.




People's Daily Online (China)
July 6, 2006

A meeting between Iran and the European Union (EU) over proposals to tempt the Central Asian state to stop its controversial uranium enrichment program has been postponed for one day.

Iran put back the talks between its top nuclear negotiator Dr. Ali Larijani and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, which had been set to take place in Brussels on Wednesday, without giving a reason.

Larijani and Solana had been due to explore whether or not Iran was ready to respond to the package of proposals agreed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany over its nuclear issue. The package demands that Iran suspends uranium enrichment in return for economic and political incentives.

"I was surprised to hear that Dr. Ali Larijani has decided at the last minute to postpone his trip to Brussels as previously agreed with him to take place today," Solana said in a statement.

"I have just spoken to Dr. Larijani on the phone and we decided to meet tomorrow in Brussels, then continue the discussions on July 11," the statement added.

"I had made clear to the Iranians and to Dr. Larijani that we want to proceed rapidly to examine together the ideas I put to him early last month," Solana said.

Western powers have recently mounted pressure on Iran, calling on the country to formally respond by mid-July to the six-nation package.

During a Moscow meeting last Thursday, foreign ministers of the Group of Eight industrialized countries urged Iran to give "a clear and substantive response" to the package at the scheduled meeting between Larijani and Solana.

However, Larijani said on Monday that he would not give a response to the package in his meeting with Solana, saying it was "not reasonable" for the West to demand a suspension of Iran's nuclear program.

The United States has accused Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons under a civilian cover, a charge categorically denied by Tehran.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is aimed at generating power to meet surging domestic demand.



Deutsche Presse-Agentur
July 6, 2006

Original source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur

TEHRAN -- Iran says it cancelled talks on its nuclear situation on Wednesday in Brussels because it feared an assassination attempt on its chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, state news agency IRNA reported.

Larijani was to have met the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, but rescheduled for a dinner meeting Thursday, with more talks on July 11, Solana said in a statement from Brussels.

The alleged assassination concerns contrasted with reports in Brussels earlier Wednesday that the Iranians objected to the presence of Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

There is a growing sentiment in Brussels that Iran is playing for time because of internal political differences over how to respond to an incentives package aimed at convincing it to give up enriching uranium.

The delay brought warnings in Washington Wednesday from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice against Iran's stalling. The international community has set July 12 as the deadline for a response from Iran to the incentives package.

The IRNA report, quoting an unnamed security official, said that reports on the 'formation of terrorist squads in Brussels by Israel and certain European states for assassination attempts on members of the Iranian delegation' led to the postponement.

After the Europeans gave security assurances to the Iranian delegation, the visit was rescheduled for July 11, the anonymous source said. But a statement from Solana said he expected to meet Larijani Thursday for dinner.

There was no official comment from Iran's National Security Council, where Larijani is secretary.