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. Iran to make new nuclear talk proposals within a month
VIENNA (AFP) Aug 26, 2005
Iran plans to come up within a month with new proposals for nuclear talks with Europe and does not fear UN action against it for atomic fuel work it has resumed and vows to continue, Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said Friday.

Ali Larijani, who has taken office in the new government of ultra-conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was speaking to reporters ahead of a UN-set September 3 deadline for Iran to stop work on making atomic power reactor fuel that could also be used to make nuclear weapons.

The resumption of this work, which Iran had broken off last November to start talks with the European Union on guaranteeing its nuclear program is peaceful, has scuttled the negotiations and could lead to Iran being brought before the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

Larijani said Ahmadinejad would need "about a month to elaborate a new proposal" and wanted to get other nations beyond Europe involved in the talks.

Speaking after meeting in Vienna with UN atomic watchdog agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, Larijani said Iran had not ruled out further talks with the EU as he did not feel "the European capacity to resolve this matter has already been surpassed."

But Larijani said he felt other countries should get involved, specifically mentioning South Africa which has proposed that Iran be able to do certain nuclear fuel work.

EU negotiators Britain, France and Germany have cancelled talks set for August 31 in Paris, saying negotiations can not continue unless Iran ceases all nuclear fuel work.

But Larijani has challenged the role of the so-called EU3 in leading the diplomatic initiative and called for more countries to take part.

The US State Department on Thursday dismissed this challenge.

"Any discussion of trying to change with whom they negotiate... is really, I think, an attempt to change the subject," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. The United States says that Iran's civilian nuclear program is a cover for hidden weapons development.

France insisted Friday that the EU3 have been working in conjunction with their 22 other EU partners as well as the UN atomic watchdog's full 35-nation board of governors, which has called on Iran to resume its suspension of fuel work.

The EU3 "do not work in isolation," foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said in Paris.

Larijani said he had good talks with ElBaradei, whose International Atomic Energy Agency will file the report on Iran's fuel cycle activities or lack of them, as well as on progress in the IAEA's over-two-year old investigation into Iran's nuclear program.

ElBaradei's spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said after the meeting that Larijani had "expressed his commitment to cooperating closely with the IAEA to resolve outstanding issues about its nuclear program."

Larijani repeated that Iran has resumed and would not suspend uranium conversion activities, the first step in making enriched uranium which is fuel for power reactors but can also be the raw material for atom bombs.

"The uranium conversion facility in Isfahan has resumed operations and that is a matter of fact," Larijani said, referring to a plant 400 kilometresmiles) south of Tehran.

Larijani said that "some nuclear powers have in the back of their minds to create a nuclear fuel cartel like OPEC" but that Iran, which says its atomic program is peaceful and legal under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was against such "nuclear apartheid."

Larijani said Iran was not worried about the threat of Security Council sanctions.

"With the power that Iran enjoys in the region there is no way that Iran can be worried about the threat of the Security Council," Larijani said.

As for the September 3 deadline, Larijani said: "Although we are not interested in haste and that things move to a crisis... we also are not concerned and not afraid."

In what looks like a victory for the Islamic Republic, the IAEA has concluded that highly enriched uranium (HEU) particles found in Iran were from imported equipment and not from Iran's own activities, diplomats have said.

The September 3 report will also however cover suspicious Iranian work with plutonium, another atom bomb material.

Meanwhile, diplomats said the United States and the EU would not seek an emergency meeting of the IAEA and that the agency would review Iran's compliance at a regular quarterly meeting in Vienna on September 19.

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