July 3, 2006

Iran dismisses suspension of atomic work: agencies

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Senior Iranian nuclear officials on
Monday dismissed a demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment,
which was proposed in a nuclear package backed by six world
powers, Iranian news agencies reported.

"We have announced our opinion on suspension and we do not
think it is a reasonable proposition," Iran's chief nuclear
negotiator, Ali Larijani, was quoted as saying by the
semi-official Mehr News Agency.

Larijani is due to meet European Union foreign policy chief
Javier Solana on Wednesday to discuss the package.

Iranian officials have previously insisted Iran will not
suspend the sensitive atomic work, and the remarks by Larijani
and other officials suggest a breakthrough is unlikely.

Ali Hosseinitash, head of strategic affairs at Iran's
Supreme National Security Council, was quoted by the student
news agency ISNA as saying: "Suspension is definitely not on
Iran's agenda."

In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Snow said U.S.
officials were awaiting the results of Solana's meeting with

"What we've said all along is: the proper channel for
conveying the position of the Iranian government is through Ali
Larijani to Javier Solana. The two of them obviously are
supposed to meet on the 5th, we'll see what happens then," Snow

The Group of Eight industrialized nations told Iran last
week they wanted a "clear and substantive response" to the
offer on July 5. Iranian officials declared more time was
needed. Iran had said it would reply by August 22.

"We do not intend to answer (at the July 5 meeting) and our
counterparts do not expect an answer either," Hosseinitash

Larijani said: "Deadlines do not help in solving the

One Western diplomat earlier said the Islamic Republic was
unlikely to give a firm answer on July 5 but that if an answer
did not arrive by July 12, when major power foreign ministers
next meet, U.N. Security Council action would loom.

Iran has been hauled before the Security Council for
failing to convince the world that its nuclear program is
purely civilian, as Tehran says, and not a cover to build
bombs, as the West contends.

The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and
Germany have offered Iran a package of economic and other
incentives if it suspends uranium enrichment, a process that
has both civilian and military uses. They also outlined
penalties if Iran refused.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington)