August 20, 2006

Iran will not suspend atomic work, says official

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Sunday it would not suspend
uranium enrichment, ruling out the main demand in a package of
proposals backed by six nations aimed at resolving its nuclear
standoff with the West.

Iran has so far shown no sign it will accept the offer made
in June by the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain
and Germany, but Tehran has said it would give its formal
response by Tuesday, August 22.

"We are not going to suspend (enrichment). The issue was
that everything should come out of negotiations, but suspension
of uranium enrichment is not on our agenda," Foreign Ministry
spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had said on
Wednesday Iran was ready to discuss the issue of suspending
uranium enrichment in talks with the West but would seek to
explain that Tehran believes any halt would be "illogical."

Western diplomats say Iran must suspend enrichment, a
process that has military and civilian uses, before any talks
can start. Any response that falls short of that step is likely
to be considered a rejection of the offer in Western capitals.

"As the proposal has had several dimensions, our answer
will be multi-dimensional too," Asefi said.

The package included offering Iran state-of-the-art nuclear
technology, easing of some trade restrictions and other

Iran's file has already been sent back to the U.N. Security
Council because the August 22 deadline was deemed too late to
reply. Last month, the council passed a resolution demanding
Iran suspend enrichment by August 31 or face possible

"The resolution is unacceptable and without legal grounds.
The Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept four or five
people deciding for the rest of the world," he said,
reiterating Iran's previous rejection of the Security Council's

Western nations accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear
weapons. Tehran denies the charge, saying its atomic program is
designed to produced electricity to meet soaring demand for
power in the world's fourth largest oil exporter.