There is a sudden surge in diplomatic activities aimed at putting more pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. President Bush and Prime Minister Gordon Brown have threatened further and stricter sanctions against the Islamic Republic if it does not stop its programme of uranium enrichment. Two days before the London summit of these leaders, the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana on behalf of six Europeans nations, presented in Tehran a package of incentives to Iran to stop its nuclear research and facilities. Meanwhile Dr A.Q. Khan's name has again surfaced by way of renewed Western fears that advanced nuclear-weapon designs may have been provided to Iran and North Korea through the smuggling network run by Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. Latest move by six countries including United States in the form of a package containing incentives asked Iran to give up its atomic ambitions, which has been rejected by Iran on June 14. Javier Solana, who presented the proposal to Iranian authorities said that the latest offer was "generous and comprehensive and a starting point for real negotiations on the country's nuclear programme. But Iranian say that they would not consider any proposal that included halting its uranium enrichment as a condition to talks adding that if the package which includes suspension, it is not debatable at all. Gholam Hossein Elham, Iran's government spokesman said that the Iranian stand was clear. "Any precondition regarding suspension would be out of the question." The IAEA, Western, American scientists and experts have cast doubts over the Islamic Republic's intentions to develop its nuclear agenda. They are not convinced that Iran requires nuclear power for energy generation given its huge oil resources. Emphasising Iran's rights to nuclear related energy generation, Solana said, "We are ready to fully recognise Iran's right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes." According to New York Times (June 15), the package of incentives promises Iran light-water, nuclear reactors and built-in cooperation with the six countries. It also includes binding guarantees for supplying fuel to these installations and cooperation between the two sides on the management of nuclear waste. Non-nuclear parts of the proposal involve regional security cooperation and trade liberalisation between Iran and the six countries. It also mentions technological assistance for Iran's telecommunications infrastructure and support to help modernise its agriculture sector, education and emergency responses. Independence from the influence of other countries is an important theme for the Iranian authorities, who say the nuclear issue is an international litmus test that will indicate how world powers will respond to developing countries . Non-nuclear parts of the proposal involve regional security cooperation and trade liberalisation between Iran and the six countries. It also mentions technological assistance for Iran's telecommunications infrastructure and support to help modernise its agriculture sector, education and emergency responses. In London, on June 16 Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that UK and Europe would freeze the overseas assets of Iran's largest commercial bank, joining the United States in intensifying financial pressure against Iran over its refusal to address international concern over its nuclear activities. However both President Bush and prime minister said that they were open to resolving the dispute with Iran diplomatically, but only after it suspended uranium enrichment. Iran has not yet formally responded to the new proposal but Brown announced that Europe would move to restrict European transactions of the Iranian bank, Bank Melli, immediately. He also said that if Iran continued to defy existing UN resolutions calling for it to halt uranium enrichment, European leaders would begin considering sanctions on investments in Iran's oil and natural gas industries. Iran did not immediately respond to Brown's announcement, but economists in Tehran said sanctions could put further strain on Iran, especially at a time when Iran is highly dependent on imports, from Europe in particular, forcing it to look elsewhere for trade. The European Council, however, has yet not adopted the sanctions, nor were they discussed at a meeting on Monday (June 16) of the union's foreign ministers. Western intelligence agencies, indicated that Iran has ventured into explosives, uranium processing and a missile warhead design - activities that could be associated with constructing nuclear weapons. The atomic energy agency's report highlights the amount of work still to be done before definitive conclusions about the nature of the programme can be made, a task that would require months. Iran's nuclear programme has long been a flashpoint, with critics fearing that suggestions that Iran is developing weapons which could embolden factions within the administration who have been pushing for a confrontation with Iran. But Iran has dismissed this report as "forged" or "fabricated," claimed that its experiments and projects had nothing to do with a nuclear weapons programme and refused to provide documentation and access to its scientists to support its claims. The report also makes the allegation that Iran is learning to make more powerful centrifuges that are operating faster and more efficiently, the product of robust research and development that have not been fully disclosed to the agency. It means that the country may be producing enriched uranium - which can be used to make electricity or to produce bombs - faster than expected at the same time as it replaces its older generation of less reliable centrifuges. Some of the centrifuge components have been produced by Iran's military, said the report, prepared by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the agency, which is the United Nations nuclear monitor. But in December last an estimate by the US Intelligence agencies published in December last concluded that Iran suspended its work on a weapons design in late 2003, apparently in response to the mounting international pressure. It was uncertain whether the weapons work had resumed. It concluded that work continued on Iran's missiles and uranium enrichment, the two other steps that would be necessary for Iran either to build or launch a weapon or to announce that it is able to construct one quickly. The IAEA has been taking an inconsistent position on the Iranian nuclear programme but in August last the International Atomic Energy Agency struck a deal with Iran on a "work plan" for clearing up outstanding questions about its nuclear programme within three months, before December 2007. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, who launched the initiative as an end run around the Western campaign to stop Tehran's ongoing uranium enrichment, claimed that it would be a litmus test. "If Iran were to prove that it was using this period for delaying tactics and it was not really acting in good faith, then obviously nobody - will come to its support when people call for more sanctions or for punitive measures," ElBaradei said in an interview last September Year. In April (2007) Iran had offered its own proposal, which called for a "new and more advanced plan for interaction" and "agreement on collective commitments to cooperate" on various political, economic, regional, international, nuclear and "energy security" issues. It also seeks sought to "bolster the stability and the advancement of democracy in the region." Controversy on Iran's nuclear programme continues unabated. Iran says its nuclear research and facilities are solely for peaceful purposes. But the United States and some European countries reject that assertion, accusing Iran of using its civilian programme as a cover for developing nuclear weapons. IAEA, Western American scientists and experts have cast doubts over the Islamic Republic's intentions to develop its nuclear agenda. They are not convinced that Iran requires nuclear power for energy generation with its huge oil resources. Given the current pace of diplomatic activities the indications are that the sanctions would be formally adopted in the next few days and in anticipation of such strict measures Iran has withdrawn $75 billion from European banks during the last few days. Withdrawal of such huge amount is indicative of telling effect of pressure of Iran. The sanctions will put further pressure, but Iran can use its windfall oil revenue and pay further costs to import through smaller banks. Iran is likely to shift its trade from Europe to Asia, to countries like China and India, even Russia, which are still willing to do trade with Iran despite the sanctions." The writer is a former diplomat