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Friday, June 09, 2006

Iran cleric rejects nuclear incentives

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Friday, 9 June 2006: 15.14 CET) – A top Iranian cleric has rejected an international incentives package designed to coax Iran to return to negotiations over its nuclear program on Friday, saying the offer would never stop Iran from reprocessing uranium for nuclear fuel.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran: "Now they want to deprive us of many advantages. The package they have brought is a package that is good for themselves and is not appropriate for the Iranian people."

"In short, we must have enrichment to the level of 3.5 to five percent and they have no choice but to accept it," he added, in comments carried by Reuters.

Jannati heads the powerful Guardian Council, Iran's pre-eminent constitutional watchdog.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has given authority over nuclear negotiations to the Supreme National Security Council, headed by Ali Larijani who is regarded as a more moderate figure.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced earlier this year that his country had mastered the full nuclear fuel cycle. It is believed that Iran now has the ability to reprocess uranium to low levels of enrichment unsuitable for the production of nuclear weapons.

However the Islamic republic has announced plans for bringing 54,000 centrifuges online in coming years allowing for large-scale production of high-grade uranium. Work on 3,000 centrifuges is set to begin by the end of the year, Iranian officials have said.

It was revealed on Friday that Iran had begun enriching a second batch of uranium on the same day that the incentives package was delivered, underlining the Islamic republic's resolve to protect its right to reprocessing activities.

The EU and US fear that Iran has a hidden nuclear weapons program, a charge the Iranian government strenuously denies.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council offered the incentives to Iran through EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Tuesday. The offer was made to secure the export of uranium reprocessing activities and a return to Iranian compliance with the country's nuclear commitments.

The incentives package is thought to include the offer of light water reactors; a nuclear fuel storage facility; access to Boeing and Airbus aircraft parts; and an allowance that Iran be allowed to resume nuclear enrichment in the future after assuring the UN and International Atomic Energy Agency that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iranian officials said they would study the incentives offer before making an official response.

Diplomatic officials have said that an Iranian answer is expected before the upcoming G8 summit convenes in St. Petersburg on 15 July.
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