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Iran rejects Europe's nuclear deal

Iran has a processing plant in the city of Isfahan.


International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran on Saturday said it would reject a package of proposals from European negotiators which offered long-term support for Iran's civil nuclear program as long as the country does not develop nuclear weapons.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi told the state news agency IRNA the proposal "is not acceptable."

Speaking on the sidelines of an inauguration ceremony for new President Mahmoud Ahmedinejan, Asefi said the proposal lacks the points that would guarantee Iran's interests and contradict the spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as the Paris Accord, both of which were signed by Iran.

Iran will give its official answer to the Europeans within a day or two, Asefi told IRNA.

The Europeans, he said, have told Iran the proposal represents the minimum of what they can offer, and questioned why negotiators were "wasting time" instead of offering the maximum.

Iran had already declared that any European proposal should include the country's right to enrich uranium, but the proposal did not include that issue, Asefi told IRNA.

After Ahmadinejan was sworn in, he said in a speech the country would not be intimidated. "We do not humble ourselves in the poisoned atmosphere created by foreign sources," he said.

The U.S. State Department had called on Iran to accept the offer.

According to a summary of the proposals, released by the British Embassy in Tehran, cooperation between the EU-3 -- Britain, France and Germany -- and Iran would be enhanced in the nuclear field, allowing Iran access to the international nuclear technologies market.

The EU-3 would also "fully support long-term co-operation in the civil nuclear field between Iran and Russia."

In February, Russia signed a deal with Iran to transfer nuclear fuel to Iran's $800 million power plant reactor in the southern city of Bushehr and move the spent fuel back to Russia.

The United States has called on Russia not to go ahead with providing nuclear fuel for the plant, fearing Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said he is convinced Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry's international political director, Pirouz Husseini, received the EU-3 proposal Friday morning, according to the ISNA report.

Britain, France and Germany have been involved in negotiations with Iran over the future of its nuclear program. The EU-3 faced a Monday deadline for presenting a its proposal.

In November, Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment while negotiations on a comprehensive proposal continued. But, since the EU-3 missed the Monday deadline, it said it is no longer bound by any agreement.

Asefi told IRNA on Saturday, however, that Iran would like to continue negotiations with the EU-3.

The United States has no diplomatic ties with Iran, which President Bush once branded part of an "axis of evil." U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said Friday the EU-3 gave a copy of the 30-page offer to the Bush administration and briefed administration officials.

"This proposal is a good one for the Iranians," Burns said. "We hope they consider it and urge that they do so."

He repeated the administration's threat that if Tehran breaks its nuclear agreements to resume uranium conversion, the United States and European Union may refer the case to the U.N. Security Council.

Asefi reiterated that Iran plans to resume uranium conversion activities at the Isfahan plant in central Iran after the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, installs new monitoring equipment, which it has said would take a week.

In uranium conversion, uranium is converted into UF-6 gas, which can be enriched to make fuel for generating electricity. The gas can also be used to create highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.

Despite the fact that Isfahan is not a uranium-enrichment facility, the IAEA says it still falls under a political agreement, and an IAEA resolution, for Iran to suspend enrichment-related activities.

Tuesday the IAEA will hold an emergency meeting on Iran's nuclear program at the request of the EU-3, according to an IAEA spokesman.

Asked about the meeting and the EU-3's request for it, Asefi told IRNA Saturday the meeting did not have a legal justification and is psychological warfare against Iran.

IAEA Director-General Mohammad ElBaradei will attend the meeting in Vienna.

Journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr and CNN's Elise Labott contributed to this report.

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