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Iran says its right to enrichment is non-negotiable

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will not give up its right to enrich uranium, a senior Iranian official said on Saturday, days before major powers submit an upgraded package of incentives to try to coax Tehran into halting the work.

Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham hosts his weekly news conference in Tehran November 13, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

“Suspending enrichment is not negotiable ... Depriving Iran of its right cannot be on offer,” Gholamhossein Elham, the government spokesman, told a weekly news conference.

Iran has agreed to a visit by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to submit the package of incentives, in exchange for a full suspension of uranium enrichment.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia -- and Germany, known as the P5+1, offered a package to Iran in 2006 that also required Iran to halt enrichment.

Tehran rejected those proposals and the latest package is an enhanced version.

Elham said no date had been set for Solana’s trip. “We have agreed on the trip, but no specific date has been set yet.”

A Western diplomat told Reuters Solana was expected to visit Iran on June 14.

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Iran has handed over what it calls a “proposed package for constructive negotiations”. But it ignores the West’s main demand, which is suspending enrichment.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sanctions resolutions on Iran for refusing to halt the sensitive activity.

Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, says its enrichment activity is aimed at generating electricity.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday Iran had pressed ahead with uranium enrichment work, accelerating the program in defiance of the U.N. demand.

The report also said Iran had resolved most issues about its past nuclear activities, but not its alleged research into nuclear warheads.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said the report “did not contain any specific negative points”.

Tehran says all open questions over its nuclear program have been answered and the Security Council has no business bothering with Iran’s nuclear case.

Reporting by Hahsem Kalantari, Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Elizabeth Piper