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. Iran confident after key UN nuclear inspection
TEHRAN (AFP) Jan 16, 2005
Iran said Sunday it was confident that UN inspectors would disprove US allegations that it is conducting secret nuclear weapons work, and said its negotiations with the Europeans on the issue were "on a good track".

A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agencyvisited the previously off-limits Iranian military site of Parchin, near Tehran, on Thursday.

"They visited, they took some samples from the open area and they returned home. We know what the results are because we have no illegal activity," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

"After they study the results they can confirm our position," he added.

The spokesman also told reporters that talks with the European Union on finding a long-term solution to international worries over Iran's nuclear drive were going well.

"The Iran-EU negotiations are continuing and are on a good track," he said.

The two sides this week kicked off a fresh round of talks on a potentially lucrative trade pact after a deal clinched in November by the European bloc's three most powerful members -- Britain, France and Germany -- for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.

The trade deal forms part of a package of possible incentives Iran could earn if the talks also manage to produce "objective guarantees" the country is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment activities while the talks are in progress. The country insists it only wants to produce fuel for nuclear reactors, but there are fears the sensitive fuel cycle work could be geared towards making weapons.

Asefi said Iran would one day resume enrichment, but he held back from giving any timetable.

"It is clear that we will resume enrichment. We have said from the beginning that suspension is voluntary and short-term. We will eventually resume enrichment," he said.

The Europeans are pushing for Iran to accept a long-term suspension of its work on the nuclear fuel cycle, including the enrichment of uranium, to ease international alarm.

In return, Europe's three major powers are offering Iran civilian nuclear technology, including access to nuclear fuel, increased trade and help with Tehran's regional security concerns.

Asefi said political negotitations with the EU would begin in March but he also said Iran did not want to see the United States also join the negotiating process.

"We don't feel that there is a need for the US to take part in these talks. There is a precondition needed for this, which goes back to the US attitude," the spokesman said.

"There is no need for face to face negotiations. One should only enter negotiations when you know there will be a result."

Iran has consistently claimed it is only giving up enrichment voluntarily to build confidence and reserves the right to enrich uranium when it wishes since its nuclear program is a peaceful effort geared to making electricity.

Tehran gave permission for inspectors to take environmental samples from the massive Parchin site, located around 30 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Tehran, in order to disprove the US allegations of secret weapons-related activities.

Washington has voiced concern that the Iranians may be working on testing high-explosive charges with an inert core of depleted uranium at Parchin as a sort of dry test for how a bomb with fissile material would work.

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