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Iran Refuses To Halt Uranium Enrichment

February 21, 2007 -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has rejected today's UN Security Council deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment.

He said Tehran will continue work to achieve its nuclear right "in the shortest possible time."

Iranian officials on February 20 said they were ready for negotiations on the nuclear issue, but added that suspending enrichment was not on the agenda.

The Security Council in December approved imposing sanctions on Iran if the country did not stop enrichment activities within 60 days.

The Security Council could consider further sanctions if the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency confirms Iran has failed to halt enrichment.

Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Tehran was willing to offer guarantees during negotiations that Iran would not seek nuclear weapons, but gave no indication Iran would be ready to stop enrichment work.

The United States rejected an apparent proposal from Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad that Iran could suspend uranium-enrichment work if Western countries do the same. White House spokesman Tony Snow questioned whether Ahmadinejad's statement was "serious."

(RFE/RL 21.ii.07)

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