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Iran, EU to resume nuclear talks

Iran reiterates that its right to uranium enrichment was non-negotiable but talks over the nuclear dispute with the EU will begin soon.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Tehran
UPDATED ON OCT 07, 2007 06:42 PM IST

Iran on Sunday reiterated that its right to uranium enrichment was non-negotiable but said talks over the nuclear dispute with the European Union (EU) will begin soon.

"Talks of nuclear freeze are outdated," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said at his weekly press conference.

Hosseini said Iran and the European Union (EU) are soon to resume talks over the nuclear dispute.

He, however, could not give an exact date and venue of the new round of talks between Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. DPA said.

Hosseini also expressed Tehran's readiness to negotiate on equal terms with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the US, Russia, China, France and Britain - plus Germany, Xinhua news agency reported.

Iran would also continue to work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the framework of an action plan agreed by Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog in August, he said.

A delegation from the IAEA will arrive in the Iranian capital in the coming days and the next round of Iran-IAEA talks will be held in Tehran on October 9, Hosseini said.

Issues related to P1 and P2 centrifuges, which are used for uranium enrichment, will be among topics to be discussed by the two sides, he added.

Compared with P1, P2 centrifuges are more advanced and could produce more uranium, which can be used as nuclear fuel or key material for atomic weapons at the same time.

According to the IAEA, Iran has fewer than 2,000 centrifuges working in its Natanz nuclear plant, and around 650 were installed but not yet operating. The centrifuges are mainly believed to be the P1 type but Tehran also seeks to operate the more progressed P2 types for enrichment.

Hosseini said that although "one or two countries" planned to follow a course outside the Iran-IAEA agreement, "such a plan would hopefully not materialise", according to DPA.

Referring to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's letter to the EU seeking expansion of sanctions against Iran, the spokesman said the French initiative was "illogical and unrealistic" and had so far gained no results.

Hosseini said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was preparing a letter to Kouchner to clarify that his new initiative would not change Iran's nuclear course but just tarnish France's image in Iran.

Iran and the IAEA agreed in August on a plan of action, which aims to remove all technical ambiguities by the IAEA over Iran's nuclear projects and at the same time prepare grounds for political talks between Larijani and Solana.

Iran says that its nuclear programmers are for civil and peaceful purposes, with enrichment-levels just at a maximum of five per cent for producing nuclear fuel for its nuclear reactors.

The world powers, however, fear that Iran might use the very same process, but at a higher enrichment level, to make atomic bombs.

The West argues that as Iran has no nuclear reactors yet - and even the joint plant with the Russia in southern Iran is not yet completed - the country had no imminent need for nuclear fuel and hence no justification for uranium enrichment.

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