Amid continued international wrangling over Iran's nuclear program, Tehran appears to have been emboldened by the results of the recent fighting in Lebanon.
Iran responded on August 22 to the so-called 5-plus-1 incentive package, developed by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, along with Germany. The package reportedly offered Iran a variety of economic benefits in return for a commitment to suspend its nuclear program. Details concerning the Iranian response have been kept under wraps. What is clear, however, is that Tehran has failed to satisfy US and European Union officials.
In a television interview broadcast by the German N24 channel on August 24, German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that the United States and EU had hoped for a clear Iranian commitment to suspend uranium enrichment and enter into substantive negotiations on the nuclear program. "That, unfortunately, is not what happened," Merkel said. US and EU officials are now mulling how to proceed. In the past, US officials have vowed to take the Iranian nuclear issue to the UN Security Council with the aim of imposing sanctions on Tehran.
Iranian officials have disputed the US and EU interpretation of the response. "Tehran's response is very comprehensive and includes the Islamic Republic of Iran's attitudes toward the continuation of negotiations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said August 23.
Meanwhile, the Iranian press has provided clues on the essence of Tehran's reply. One commentary in particular stands out. Hussein Shariatmadari, an aide to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as editor of the conservative Kayhan daily, wrote August 23: "There are over 60 ambiguous items in the (5-plus-1) package, making a
Kamal Nazer Yasin is a pseudonym for a freelance journalist specializing in Iranian affairs.