Iran, EU diplomats begin meeting on uranium enrichment suspension
TEHRAN (AFP) Nov 14, 2004
Iran's top nuclear negotiator began talks in Tehran late Sunday with European envoys to give his government's final answer on demands for a suspension of uranium enrichment or face possible sanctions, an AFP reporter said.
Security chief Hassan Rowhani was to deliver the response to the ambassadors of Britain, France and Germany in an 11th-hour meeting ahead of a November 25 session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), sources close to the talks said.
"We have had several days of difficult work," Rowhani was heard saying as he met the three European ambassadors at Saadabad palace in north Tehran, the same place where Iran agreed more than a year ago to cooperate with the IAEA in a deal brokered by the British, French and German foreign ministers.
"I hope that this evening we will also be able to understand each other," Rowhani said, before the diplomats went into closed-door discussions.
At the IAEA in Vienna, diplomats said Iran had agreed to a full suspension of uranium enrichment in line with an agreeement worked out with the European Union on November 5 and 6 in Paris.
The UN watchdog must have the response by Monday or at the very latest Tuesday if it is to be able to incorporate it in a report to members.
The November 25 session of the agency's 35-nation board of governors is to decide on US-led calls for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear programme, which Washington charges is a cover for a covert weapons drive.
The EU's "Big Three" have been negotiating with Iran since October in a bid to convince the Islamic republic's clerical regime to stay in line with IAEA demands and halt its sensitive fuel cycle work.
Britain, France and Germany have said they will back the US hard line if Iran fails to tell the IAEA that it agrees to a full suspension.
Iran has since October 2003 suspended the actual enrichment of uranium as a confidence-building measure but not support activities such as making the feed gas for enrichment and manufacturing the centrifuges which refine the uranium.
The carrots the EU are said to be offering Iran are civilian nuclear technology, including access to nuclear fuel and a light-water research reactor, increased trade and help with Tehran's regional security concerns.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.