(CNSNews.com) - Iran formally responded on Tuesday to an international carrot-and-stick proposal aimed at defusing the standoff over Iran's nuclear activities.
The response is seen as a test of Iran's willingness to cooperate -- and a test of the West's will to respond forcefully if Iran doesn't stop enriching uranium.
Reuters on Tuesday quoted a Western diplomat as saying he expected an "ambiguous" response from Iran, and that's apparently what the response is -- ambiguous.
According to various wire reports quoting Iranian state-run television, Iran said it is "prepared to enter serious negotiations" about its nuclear activities -- supposedly as soon as tomorrow. And Iran reportedly has proposed a "new formula" to resolve the dispute, but it's not clear if Iran will stop enriching uranium.
The U.S. and its allies were studying Iran's response, and more details are expected as the day unfolds.
A short time before learning what Iran said, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said the response would constitute the "definitive Iranian answer."
"We will obviously study the Iranian response carefully, but we are also prepared, if it does not meet the terms set by the [international community] to proceed here in the Security Council...with economic sanctions," Bolton said.
"If on the other hand, the Iranians have chosen the path of cooperation, as we've said repeatedly, then a different relationship with the United States and the rest of the world is now possible."
Bolton has urged Iran to live up to its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- and in so doing, convince the world that its intentions really are peaceful.
Iran insists that its nuclear energy program is for civilian purposes, but the U.S. and its allies believe it's a cover for efforts to produce nuclear weapons.
Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, announced earlier this month that Iran planned to expand its uranium enrichment activities -- in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding the suspension of such activities by August 31 -- or else.
The international community (the five permanent Security Council members Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany) has offered Iran diplomatic and trade incentives in exchange for Iran agreeing to halt its nuclear activities.
See Earlier Stories: Iran Looks Set to Say No on Nuclear Offer (21 Aug. 2006)
Iran Looks Set to Reject Deal Offering Way Out of Nuclear Crisis (15 Aug. 2006)
Russia Urges Iran to Meet UN Nuclear Deadline (4 Aug. 2006)
Iran Rejects Watered-Down UN Resolution on Nuclear Activities (1 Aug. 2006)
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