The ball is now in Tehran’s court. There has been no official reaction from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to an offer from the US to join talks with Iran on its nuclear programme, if it suspends disputed activities.
Washington believes it has a consensus among key allies – including Russia and China – that, if the offer fails, they will return to the UN Security Council. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: “As soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU-3 colleagues and meet with Iran’s representatives.” She is due to meet the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany in Vienna today to finalise a package of measures aimed at getting Tehran to abandon its programme. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “I think that Washington’s proposal gives substance and credibility to the efforts made so far to resolve this conflict. We all hope that those in charge in Tehran recognise the magnitude of this proposition by the United States.” The United States abandoned diplomatic ties with Iran in 1979 after students held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Iran says its atomic programme is to provide energy for the country but the West believes it is a front for an attempt to build a bomb.