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. Iran, EU still at odds over nuclear freeze: Tehran
TEHRAN (AFP) Feb 02, 2005
Iran and the European Union are still at odds over whether Tehran should be able to resume work on its sensitive nuclear fuel cycle, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said Wednesday.

"Our condition is that the suspension of uranium enrichment is short term but the Europeans are demanding a long-term halt," student news agency ISNA quoted him as saying.

"We have to reach a definitive result at the set date," he added, referring to a timetable of approximately three to six months that Iran has allocated to negotiations with Britain, France and Germany.

"We will examine the result of the negotiations after three months," he said of the talks, which began in mid-December.

Accused by Washington of trying to build an atomic bomb, Iran has suspended uranium enrichment as a confidence-building measure during talks with the European Union.

But hardening its stance, the 25-member bloc wants Tehran to commit itself to abandoning the process completely.

Enrichment is a key process that can make fuel for nuclear reactors as well as the explosive core of atomic bombs. Provided the purpose is peaceful, the fuel cycle is authorised by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- a right that Iran stands by but critics see as a dangerous loophole in the treaty.

At a meeting in Geneva this month, Britain, France and Germany told Iran that nothing short of full cessation and dismantling fuel cycle efforts would provide the guarantees needed to prove the peaceful nature of the nuclear program.

In return for "objective guarantees" that Iran will not seek a nuclear weapon, the European Union is offering a package of diplomatic, trade, technology and security incentives.

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