TEHRAN, Iran – Iran will offer a "multifaceted response" to a Western package of incentives aimed at persuading it to suspend uranium enrichment activities, but insisted Sunday it would not cease enriching uranium.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said a compromise has to be achieved during future negotiations.
"We won't suspend (uranium enrichment). Everything has to come out of negotiations. Suspension is not on our agenda," Asefi told a press conference Sunday.
The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution last month calling for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment by Aug. 31 or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions. Iran has rejected as "illegal" the binding resolution, saying it had not violated any of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty.
However, Asefi confirmed that Iran would offer its formal response on Aug. 22 to a package of Western incentives offered in June that calls on the Islamic Republic to suspend, not permanently halt, the enrichment program.
"It will be a multifaceted response," he said.
The package offers a series of incentives to Iran including promises that the United States and Europe will provide civilian nuclear technology and that Washington will join direct talks with Iran.
Iran has said the package was an "acceptable basis" for a compromise.
Asefi said part of the package was "convincing" but there still are ambiguities that need to be clarified in talks.
He warned that Europe would be the "loser" if it followed the U.S. in imposing sanctions against Iran.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said Iran has lived with U.S. sanctions for nearly three decades and has made all preparations for tougher time. "We have prepared ourselves for all possibilities," he said.
"If sanctions are imposed ... it will be easy (for us) to cope with it," the spokesman said, warning Europe it would be the one hurt by the measure.
"If Europe imposes sanctions, it will destroy the bridges behind it and will deprive itself of work in the future," he said.
Asefi insisted the world can't afford ignoring a powerful country like Iran and join the U.S. in imposing sanctions.
"Iran's influence in the region is clear. A country like Iran has extensive political, economic and cultural capabilities. Will other countries ignore Iran's capabilities in their political and economic cooperation?" he said.
The United States and its allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied the charges saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity, not bombs.
Iran has adopted a national plan to meet 20,000 megawatts of electricity through nuclear energy in the next 20 years.
The Islamic republic has said it will never give up its right to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel, but has indicated it may temporarily suspend large-scale activities to ease tensions.