By Parisa Hafezi
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran would welcome a proposal by U.S. presidential candidate Senator John Kerry's running mate for a "great bargain" to solve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, a senior Iranian official said on Saturday.
Vice presidential candidate Senator John Edwards has said that Kerry, a Democrat, would be willing to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for power generation if Tehran abandons its own fuel-making capability - if Iran did not accept this offer, it would confirm Iran wanted to make an atom bomb.
Iran earlier rejected the proposal, saying it would be "irrational" for Iran to jeopardize what it says is its purely civilian nuclear program by relying on supplies from abroad.
But in an apparent policy shift, Hossein Mousavian, head of the foreign policy committee at Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Iran would review the proposal.
"Iran welcomes any constructive proposal from any American candidate," Mousavian told Reuters in an interview. "We are willing to consider constructive proposals from Americans," he added.
But he said Iran, as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), should be allowed to pursue its "peaceful nuclear program."
"Our legitimate right of pursuing peaceful nuclear technology should be considered," he said.
President Bush's administration says there is no point in offering incentives to Iran. Bush wants Iran referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Mousavian said Iranian officials earlier rejected the Kerry camp proposal because they were not sure if it was part of the election campaign or a serious proposal.
He said Iran did not want to get embroiled in the U.S. election campaign. "If it is part of Kerry's election campaign ... we do not want to be part of it," he said. "Let the Americans play their game themselves."
Mousavian ruled out direct talks with Washington on Iran's nuclear program due to its "hostile" policy toward Iran.
The United States cut diplomatic ties with Iran after radical Iranian students took dozens of U.S. diplomats hostage following the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"It is because of 20 years of mistrust... Up to now, Americans have not shown any sign of good will," he said.
Mousavian called on Europeans to resist U.S. pressure and treat Tehran's nuclear dossier "fairly."
"Why they do not open a chapter of cooperation?" Mousavian said. "This issue can be solved by political talks, not by resolutions."
Iran agreed to suspend its enrichment-related activities last year after talks with foreign ministers from Britain, Germany and France. But it recently resumed key parts of it.
The IAEA board of governors passed a resolution last month demanding Iran freeze all activities connected with enriching uranium or face "tougher actions."
Mousavian said Iran considers enrichment as its "legitimate right" and would not yield to such pressures.
Iran's conservative-dominated parliament has prepared a bill that would force moderate President Mohammad Khatami's government to resume uranium enrichment.
"Parliament is concerned over whether the government is capable of guaranteeing the nations right of having peaceful technology," Mousavian said.
I am shocked!...
Watch for more on this development at the National Press Club on Thursday, October 14, 9:15 AM, in the First Amendment Room on the 13th floor.
Other Key statements by the Kerry Campaign on Iran
Before the Council on Foreign Relations in December 2003, Kerry announced As president, I will be prepared early on to explore areas of mutual interest with Iran, just as I was prepared to normalize relations with Vietnam a decade ago.
Then the Kerry Campaign sent out an email that somehow made its way to the government-controlled Mehr News Agency in Tehran, where it was trumpeted as evidence of his resolve to patch things up with the mullahs. It is in the urgent interests of the people of the United States, the message read, to restore our countrys credibility in the eyes of the world. America needs the kind of leadership that will repair alliances with countries on every continent that have been so damaged in the past few years, as well as build new friendships and overcome tensions with others.
Kerrys senior foreign affairs advisor, Rand Beers, confirmed the message was genuine, saying: I have no idea how they got hold of that letter, which was prepared for Democrats Abroad. I scratched my head when I saw that. The only way they could have gotten it was if someone in Iran was with Democrats Abroad.