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Suspending atomic work not on Iran's agenda-agency

Written by: Staff

TEHRAN, July 3 (Reuters) A senior Iranian nuclear official said today that suspending uranium enrichment, as demanded by six world powers in return for incentives, was not on Iran's agenda, Iran's student news agency ISNA reported.

Ali Hosseinitash made the comments two days before a meeting between Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana to discuss the package.

Iranian officials have previously insisted Iran would not suspend the sensitive atomic work and Hosseinitash's comments suggest a breakthrough is unlikely.

''Suspension is definitely not on Iran's agenda,'' Hosseinitash, head of strategic affairs at Iran's Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying.

''Iran does not see the issue of suspension as the core idea in solving the case,'' he added.

The Group of Eight industrialised nations told Iran last week they wanted a ''clear and substantive response'' on July 5 to the offer. 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 said.

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

Iran has been hauled before the Security Council for failing to convince the world that its nuclear programme 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 presented a package of economic and other incentives to Iran if it suspends uranium enrichment, a process that has both civilian and military uses. They also outlined penalties if Iran refused.


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