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Iran Says Nuclear Cooperation Part Of Proposals To Powers

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran will soon present to world powers a "comprehensive" package on issues including nuclear and economic cooperation as well as concerns about the proliferation of atomic weapons, an official has said.

State radio quoted Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, as saying it would be handed over this week.

U.S. President Barack Obama has given the Islamic republic until later in September to take up a six powers' offer of talks on trade benefits if it shelves nuclear enrichment, or face harsher sanctions.

The powers -- the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, and Germany -- on September 2 pressed Tehran to meet them before the UN General Assembly session on September 23-25.

The West suspects Iran of trying to build nuclear bombs, while Iran says its program is for peaceful power generation. It has repeatedly rejected demands to halt its nuclear work.

While showing no sign of backing down in the dispute, Iranian officials have in recent days said Tehran is ready to hold talks and will soon present its own package, without making clear to what extent it addresses the nuclear row.

"This is a comprehensive package about our dealings with other countries on international and regional problems including economic and nuclear cooperation and common concerns about the lack of achievement in disarmament, as well as security issues," Soltanieh said.

"Issues concerning the use of nuclear energy and concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons...are included in this complete package and there will be comprehensive talks."

'Generous Offer'

Iran has often said nuclear arms have no place in its defense doctrine and called on the United States and other countries with such weapons to dismantle them.

Israel, Iran's arch-foe, is believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal. The Jewish state says an Iranian bomb would be a threat to its existence that it would not tolerate.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran since 2006, targeting Iranian companies and individuals linked to the nuclear program.

The European Union said on September 4 that Iran had to choose between EU assistance for peaceful development of nuclear power or tougher sanctions if it failed to abandon sensitive atom work.

"We have a very generous offer on the table. We want cooperation with Iran on quite a number of things including the development of civilian nuclear technology," said Foreign Minister Carl Bildt of Sweden, which holds the EU Presidency.

The six world powers -- which include three EU states -- originally offered Iran economic incentives in 2006 in exchange for enrichment suspension. Iran's response hinted at some flexibility but ruled out any halt as a precondition for talks.

In June last year the six improved the offer but retained the precondition. In reply, Iran said it wanted to negotiate a broader peace and security deal and rejected any "condescending" formula to shelve its nuclear program.