Reacting to a signal from Iran that it was set to reply next week to a package of Security Council-backed proposals on resolving the nuclear issue, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to Iran to seize "this historic opportunity" and respond positively to the offer.
"I am pleased that the Islamic Republic of Iran has indicated it will respond to the proposal of the EU3 plus 3 for a comprehensive solution to the nuclear issue on Tuesday, 22 August 2006," the Secretary-General said in a statement, referring to the offer made by China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the support of the European Union's High Representative.
"Iran's reply will, I trust, be positive and that this will be the foundation for a final, negotiated settlement," Mr. Annan said in his appeal to the Government of Iran issued at UN Headquarters in New York.
The EU3 plus 3 proposals, endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 1696 of 31 July, envisaged a long-term comprehensive arrangement, which would allow for the development of relations with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme.
The Secretary-General stressed that in a time of acute crisis in the Middle East, progress on the nuclear issue was essential for the stability not only of the region, but the international system itself.
"It is time to take steps in the right direction," Mr. Annan said. "I am convinced that a way is now open for setting a milestone for international non-proliferation efforts."
Noting that the EU3 plus 3 had reaffirmed Iran's right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the Secretary-General said it was important for Iran to assure the world that its intentions are peaceful, and that it re-builds confidence in its nuclear programme, as both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Security Council had called for.
By its action last month, the Council requested IAEA to report, by 31 August, on whether Iran has established full and sustained suspension of all activities mentioned in resolution 1696, as well as on the process of Iranian compliance with all the steps required by the IAEA Board.