- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

TEHRAN — Iran said yesterday that it will offer a “multifaceted response” tomorrow to a Western package of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to rein in its nuclear program but insisted it won’t suspend uranium enrichment altogether.

At a press conference after Iran’s military test-fired 10 short-range missiles, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said a nuclear compromise would have to be reached during future negotiations.

“Everything has to come out of negotiations,” Mr. Asefi said. “Suspension is not on our agenda.”

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.

“We have made clear that if Iran fails to comply with the Security Council’s mandate, we will move quickly at the United Nations to impose sanctions,” White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said yesterday.

Iran, which says its atomic program is designed only to generate electricity, has rejected the resolution as “illegal.” Tehran says it has not violated any of its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Uranium enrichment produces reactor fuel, but it also can make material for nuclear warheads, and the United States and other countries suspect that Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons.

Mr. Asefi said the world could not afford to join the United States 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 incentives package aimed at persuading Iran to suspend uranium enrichment includes 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 is an “acceptable basis” for a compromise. Mr. Asefi said that part of the package was “convincing,” but that there were ambiguities that needed to be clarified in talks.

Earlier, Iran’s state-run television reported the test-firing of 10 surface-to-surface Saegheh missiles yesterday, a day after large-scale military exercises began across the country.

The Saegheh has a range of 50 to 150 miles, state TV said. It did not say whether the missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, but it isn’t thought to be.

The White House condemned Iran’s “show of military force” and said it “serves to remind us of the dangers of its nuclear ambitions.”

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