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Iran's proposal on nuclear program 'falls short,' U.S. says

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States on Wednesday said Iran's proposal to the United Nations about its nuclear program "falls short of the conditions set by the Security Council."

It was the first U.S. response to Iran's announcement this week about a proposed package of incentives, offered by the U.N. Security Council's permanent members and Germany, to get the Islamic republic to halt its uranium enrichment program.

The United States and other nation's suspect Tehran is interested in developing nuclear weapons. Iranian officials have insisted that their nuclear program is solely for generation of power and that they have no ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said this week his country was willing to immediately resume talks about its nuclear program, but he did not address the thorny issue of whether Iran would suspend enrichment activities. Enrichment is critical in the making of nuclear weapons.

State Department acting spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said: "We acknowledge that Iran considers its response as a serious offer, and we will review it. The response, however, falls short of the conditions set by the Security Council, which require the full and verifiable suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities."

Gallegos added, "We are consulting closely, including with other members of the Security Council, on next steps."

Among the proposed incentives are offers to improve Iran's access to the international economy through participation in groups such as the World Trade Organization, and to modernize its telecommunications industry.

The incentives also mention the possibility of lifting restrictions on U.S. and European manufacturers wanting to export civilian aircraft to Iran.

Under a proposed long-term agreement accompanying the incentives, the six nations proposed a "fresh start in negotiations."

Bush: 'Iran part of problem'

The Bush administration reiterated Monday that Iran must adhere to the August 31 deadline under U.N. Resolution 1696 to halt uranium enrichment or face U.N. sanctions.

During a news conference Monday, President Bush blamed Iran for the recent fighting between Hezbollah guerrillas and Israel and suggested that nuclear arms in the region would greatly increase tensions.

"Iran is obviously part of the problem," Bush said. "They sponsor Hezbollah. They encourage a radical brand of Islam. Imagine how difficult this issue would be if Iran had a nuclear weapon.

"So, therefore, it's up to the international community, including the United States, to work in concert for effective diplomacy. And that begins at the United Nations Security Council," Bush said.

Earlier Monday, Iranian state television reported that the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tehran will continue to pursue nuclear technology and not give in to "arrogant powers and the U.S." (Full story)

Khamenei's remarks came a day after Iran's armed forces tested surface-to-surface missiles Sunday in the second stage of war games near its border with Iraq.

The Security Council incentives proposal includes promises that the United States and Europe will provide civilian nuclear technology and that Washington will join direct talks with Iran. Tehran says uranium enrichment does not violate any of its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and that its nuclear program aims to produce electricity.

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