Tehran on Saturday denied “baseless” reports that it had put forth a “nine-step plan” for the gradual suspension of its uranium production, Iran’s PressTV reported.
“No new proposal has been made outside of negotiations with the P5+1 group — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany — during the recent UN General Assembly session,” PressTV quoted Tehran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, as saying.
Jalili, who serves as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, reportedly added that all media reports on the issue were “baseless.”
On Thursday, the New York Times reported that Iran, beleaguered by growing economic troubles, sanctions and civilian strife, was offering to end its standoff with the West by implementing a plan to gradually suspend its production of uranium — the enriched form of which is a key ingredient in the production of a nuclear weapon.
In the first stage, 20% enriched uranium production would stop at one of two known production sites; in the ninth stage, Iran would end medium-enriched uranium production at Fordo, a controversial site located deep underground.
According to the report, the implementation of the plan was contingent on a series of concessions by Western powers, such as canceling the sanctions which are inhibiting Tehran’s oil sales.
“Within the intelligence community, I think it’s fair to say that there is split opinion about whether the upper level of the regime is getting seriously worried,” the newspaper quoted a senior intelligence official as saying.
Obama administration officials told the newspaper that the plan was risky, because it was phrased in a way that would allow Iran to restart its nuclear program — which it claims is meant for civilian purposes — “in a nanosecond.” The sanctions, however, would take “years” to reimpose.
Meanwhile on Saturday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that the international community is ready to impose more sanctions on Iran if the country does not begin to address concerns about its nuclear program.
Speaking during a press conference with Peru’s Defense Minister, Pedro Cateriano, Panetta said that Iran to engage seriously with the international community to resolve issues with its nuclear program and if it doesn’t, “make no mistake, the international community will continue to impose additional sanctions.”
The economic sanctions are having a damaging effect on Iran, as inflation and unemployment rise, and the value of the currency drops, increasing prices.