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Iran says “no alternative” to uranium enrichment

A senior Iranian diplomat reiterated on Tuesday that the country will not accept new nuclear incentives offered by major world powers, and will continue enriching uranium.

EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana handed Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on June 14 a new “packet of incentives” from the Iran Six - China, France, Russia, the United States, Germany and Britain - aimed at persuading Tehran to halt its controversial nuclear program and avoid further international sanctions. “We have repeatedly said that enrichment is our ‘red line’ and that we must have this technology,” Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Reza Sheikh Attar told reporters in Tehran. “The work will be continued.”

The new deal recognizes Iran’s right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and offers support for the construction of light water reactors, help with supplying nuclear fuel, and a renewal of economic ties with the West. The package also stipulates an expansion of trade with Western countries, assistance with Iran’s accession to the World Trade Organization, cooperation in regional security, the environment, agriculture, transportation and education. However, the Iranian diplomat said Tehran would thoroughly study the offers and give a definitive answer as soon as possible.

The international negotiators had already proposed to Tehran in June 2006 cooperation in civilian nuclear technology, trade and other spheres, in efforts to persuade Tehran to give up uranium enrichment and resume talks with the Iran-Six group. Iran rejected the 2006 incentives.

Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment, which it says it needs purely for electricity generation despite Western accusations that the program is geared toward weapon production. Iran maintains that it has never been involved in research into the development of nuclear weapons.

Western powers have already warned the Islamic Republic that it may face tougher sanctions if it rejects the revised offer. (