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Iran Rejects European Plan to Suspend Enrichment

Iran's foreign minister rejected the principle of a European package that would require Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for support to a civilian nuclear program, state-run television reported Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Tehran would, however, welcome a solution that recognized the Islamic republic's right to produce nuclear fuel under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

"Any demand for suspension of, or halt to, [our] peaceful nuclear activities is illogical and unacceptable and will undoubtedly be rejected," the television quoted Mottaki as saying late Monday.

CountryWatch: Iran

In Brussels, European Union foreign ministers said Monday they would support a "proliferation-proof" civilian nuclear program for Iran and would boost political and economic cooperation if Tehran halts enriching uranium, which can be used both to make fuel for power plants or the core of atomic warheads.

The EU said it remained deeply concerned by Iran's failure to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

The new cooperation plan prepared by the EU would contain three elements — economic assistance, political cooperation, and support for the civilian nuclear program.

Tehran was expecting to receive a formal written proposal for this plan on Friday, state-run media said.

"Tehran welcomes any constructive proposal that guarantees Iran's legitimate and definite right" to enrich uranium, the Iranian Foreign Minister said after meeting British, German and French envoys to Tehran late Monday.

Mottaki said any deal with the EU should respect Iran's right to enrich uranium. "Otherwise its fate will be like that of the August package," he said, referring to Iran's rejection last August of an EU proposal that had already required Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program for economic incentives.

The U.S. and several of its allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons but Tehran denies the charge saying its program is geared merely toward generating electricity.

After Monday's talks in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said that Iran had to put a "complete stop" to uranium enrichment activities.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Solana needed to avoid "irresponsible" comments, insisting the nuclear program was "irreversible."

"Iran informed its European partners from the beginning of negotiations that Iran's aim is to produce fuel for peaceful purposes and is not seeking anything beyond its rights under the NPT," Asefi said on state-run television Tuesday.

Iran "won't accept any obligations beyond the treaty," he said.