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Iran Vows to Continue Nuclear Program Despite Incentives Offer


Iran's envoy to the United Nations nuclear agency says Iran is continuing with its nuclear program despite a multination offer of an incentives package if Tehran stops atomic activity.

The Iranian envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said Saturday the Islamic Republic will continue its nuclear enrichment program, reiterating the country's claim that it is for peaceful purposes.

Iran says it is ready to negotiate an incentives packaged offered by six world powers - Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the United States - but has ruled out halting enrichment.

On Friday, the Director General of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, warned that a military attack on Iran would encourage the country to rapidly seek a nuclear weapon. In an interview with al Arabiya television, ElBaradei said such a development would turn the region into a "fireball."

His remarks followed a U.S. media report that Israel conducted a simulated attack on Iran's atomic facilities.

A New York Times report quoted U.S. officials as saying Israel conducted a long-range exercise earlier this month that appeared to be practice for a potential attack on Iran.

The report said the Israeli military practiced maneuvers involving more than 100 fighter jets over the Mediterranean and Greece. It said the jets flew more than 1,400 kilometers, the approximate distance between Israel and Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.

Israeli officials declined comment on the report.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, Friday said the Bush administration continues to pursue diplomacy and believes it can work, although it rules out no options for dealing with Iran's nuclear program.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.