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. Iran says expectations partly fulfilled in nuclear talks
(AFP) Apr 22, 2005
ATTENTION - adds more quotes, background ///


TEHRAN, April 22 AFP) - Iran said Friday negotiations with Europe over its controversial nuclear program were making progress and that the Islamic republic's expectations had been partly fulfilled.

The head of Iran's negotiating team Cyrus Nasseri told state radio that Tehran was now expecting "a definitive response" from the Europeans at the next round of negotiations set for April 29 in London.

His comments were the latest in a series of cautiously upbeat assessments by Tehran of the nuclear talks, building hopes that Iran would be able to reach a deal with Europe over its contested nuclear programme.

The two-day talks between Iran and the European three of Britain, France and Germany which ended Wednesday in Geneva "have shown the Europeans' seriousness for the work to make progress," Nasseri said.

"You could say our expectations are partly fulfilled to ensure we will eventually reach a solution," he said, without elaborating. However, "these are the preliminary steps," he added.

"We hope to have a clear and definitive answer from the EU as soon as possible," he said. "We insist on having a definitive response at next week's meeting" in London.

Tehran had warned earlier this month that months of talks could collapse over EU demands that Iran abandon uranium enrichment to guarantee it will not make atomic weapons.

The United States, which backs the EU diplomatic initiative but is not party to the talks, charges that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons and must be kept from enriching uranium, the first step to nuclear weapons capability.

Enrichment makes fuel for nuclear power reactors but also the explosive core of atom bombs.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement: "We feel the negotiations are still making progress".

According to Asefi during the two days of "technical talks" the experts have discussed "ideas put forward by Iran" in the March 23 meeting, as well as "doubts from two sides".

They have decided to submit the results of their work to the steering committee which directs the negotiations and is due to meet April 29 in London, Asefi said.

Iran and the European Union, represented by Germany, Britain and France, have been involved in lengthy negotiations, with the EU demanding that the Islamic republic abandon nuclear fuel work to guarantee it will not make atomic weapons.

Iran suspended enrichment last November as a confidence-building measure to start the talks with the EU, which offers Tehran trade, security and technology rewards if it makes the suspension permanent.

Iran expects the Europeans to accept a proposal it has made to allow limited uranium enrichment.

According to the text of the proposal, read to AFP by a diplomat close to the talks, the Iranians seek the "assembly, installation and testing of 3,000 centrifuges in Natanz," the site where Iran wants to build an enrichment plant and has already set up a pilot project of 164 centrifuges.

The Iranians have so far refused to reveal the content of their proposal.

They have warned several times that talks with the European Union could collapse if they did not feel negotiations were making progress. They have also repeated suspension of enrichment is "voluntary and temporary".

Nasseri, told the state news agency IRNA on Thursday that reaching an agreement was "probable", but insisted that "producing nuclear fuel is Iran's right, and only Iran can take a decision on the matter".

However, he said on Friday "we have just started talking about a solution since March 23; we cannot predict the final result now."

The United States has agreed to wait at least until summer before lobbying to take Iran's dossier to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

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