Iran said Tuesday that it would continue uranium enrichment despite warnings of new European sanctions if it rejects an international incentive package aimed at reining in its nuclear program.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana pressed Iran to respond to the package, which offers economic incentives if Iran agrees to halt enrichment, a process the U.S. and its allies fear Tehran will use to build a nuclear weapon. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
Solana said Tuesday he cannot wait years for a response but hasn't given a deadline. He said the European Union is still pursuing negotiations and sanctions.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran will study the proposals and will respond "at an appropriate time," the official IRNA news agency reported. His deputy Ali Reza Sheikh Attar said Iran will respond "as soon as possible."
But Sheikh Attar added, "We have repeatedly said that uranium enrichment is Iran's red line and that we must enjoy this technology," according to IRNA.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that EU nations had agreed on the need for a new round of sanctions to discourage Iran from developing nuclear weapons. He announced that Britain will freeze the assets of Iran's largest bank, Bank Melli, and said potential EU sanctions would target Iran's oil and gas sectors.
There was no immediate Iranian reaction to the British move or warnings of new EU sanctions.