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Iran Rejects Incentives for Nuclear Halt

Iran said on Monday it would not consider any incentives offered by world powers that violated its right to nuclear technology, ruling out a precondition that it suspend uranium enrichment.

Nuclear Power Plant
Nuclear Power Plant

Six world powers agreed on Friday to offer a new package of incentives to coax Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a process which the West believes Tehran wants to master so that it can build nuclear weapons.

Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, insists its enrichment activity is aimed at generating electricity, and says the program is a national right that it will not give up.

"Those incentives that violate the Iranian nation's right in any form will not be reviewed by the Islamic state," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a news conference.

A senior EU diplomat at a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review meeting in Geneva told Reuters: "This looks like an early reaction that may not be particularly serious." The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia — and Germany offered a package to Iran in 2006 that required Iran to halt enrichment. Tehran rejected it.

"Regarding the incentives package ... we believe the path adopted in the past should not be continued. They should act based on realities and international regulations. Talks should be held based on respecting nations' rights," Hosseini said.

He said Iran had not formally received any new package.

The incentives offered to Iran in 2006 included civil nuclear cooperation and wider trade in civil aircraft, energy, high technology and agriculture, if Tehran suspended enrichment and negotiated with the six powers.

A European diplomat has said the heart of the previous offer — helping Iran develop civil nuclear power — remains.

Britain said details would be revealed only to Iran's government.

At the Geneva meeting, U.S. chief delegate Christopher Ford urged Iran to seize the offer as "their best chance for future prosperity ... rather than a path of isolation".

He said Iran's position of exclusively peaceful goals was "fantastical" since it had enough uranium reserves "only for a handful of nuclear weapons", not for a network of power stations for which it would need to import fuel.

"It is tragic that (Iran's) government has remained so set on a contrary course of deceit, lawbreaking and confrontation unbefitting to the inheritors of such a proud, ancient culture."

No Change in Position

Russia, which sent an envoy to Iran last week for discussions that covered the nuclear standoff, said on Saturday enrichment would have to be suspended during any talks.

"In the past, we have expressed our view about the issue that some Russian officials talked about.

There has been no change in our position," Hosseini said when asked about the comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Iran has also discussed with Russia its own package of proposals, which it says would open the way for talks to resolve the nuclear row and other issues.

It has not disclosed details.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday Iran would not give up its rights despite Western pressure, but did not specifically mention nuclear work.

"Threatening the Iranian nation will not make it retreat," he told a rally.

The United States says it wants diplomacy to end the row but has repeatedly said military action is not ruled out.

Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Israeli television it would be hard for the United States to mount any attack on Iran.

"It would be a very significant challenge for the United States right now to get into a third conflict in that part of the world," he told Israel's Channel Ten television.

Jittery since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in 2005 that the Jewish state should be "wiped off the map," Israel has lobbied for a tougher global stand against Iran.

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