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Iran Rules Out Suspending Uranium Enrichment Program


Iran has received a package of incentives from six major powers aimed at getting the country to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. But a spokesman for the Iranian government immediately ruled out any such suspension, insisting on Tehran's right to pursue its nuclear program. President Bush expressed disappointment at Iran's reaction, as VOA correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, traveled to Iran to present the government with a package of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to suspend its controversial nuclear program.

A spokeswoman for Solana says the diplomat handed the incentives proposal to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki during talks in Tehran Saturday. The package from world powers includes economic, technological and political incentives. Solana arrived in Tehran Friday on behalf of the European Union, China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States. The package, agreed to in May, is a revised and enhanced version of an offer turned down by Iran in 2006.

Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters that Iran insists on its right to have a nuclear program.

"The Islamic republic's stance towards the package is clear. Any precondition of stopping and suspending nuclear activities will not be considered, and the package also has not been sent bearing such an approach," Elham said. "It has been handed to Iran, and the Islamic Republic will announce its opinion about it after reviewing it in detail."

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of working to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful, energy-producing purposes only. Iran has defied calls by the United Nations to stop enriching uranium, the key ingredient for making nuclear weapons.

President Bush is on a week-long tour of Europe, which has been dominated by talks on Iran. Standing with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a news conference in Paris Saturday, Mr. Bush expressed disappointment that Iranian leaders had rejected the incentives package, as he said, "out of hand."

"It's an indication to the Iranian people that their leadership is willing to isolate them further," said the president. "And our view is we want the Iranian people to flourish."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed that it is "totally unacceptable" for Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

President Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said earlier this week that a rejection of the incentives package by Iran would lead the international community to get much more aggressive about enforcing U.N. sanctions and taking other steps to restrict Iran's international business and banking relationships.