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. Iran shares IAEA optimism over resumed talks with EU
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 19, 2005
Iran said Wednesday it shared the optimism of the head of the UN nuclear watchdog over a resumption of talks on its controversial nuclear programme with the Europeans.

"I too am optimistic about a resumption of negotiations and I hope it will materialise," Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told the official news agency IRNA from South Africa where he is on an official visit.

But he warned that Iran would abandon the additional protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty that provides for snap inspections of its nuclear facilities if its programme is referred to the UN Security Council.

"Iran will stop implementing the additional protocol, so there will be less inspections" by monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Larijani said.

Iran signed the additional protocol in 2003 but it has yet to be ratified by parliament.

Larijani said he nonetheless shared the optimism of IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei that talks on the nuclear programme would resume soon with Britain, France and Germany.

Negotiations broke off in August after Tehran rejected a package of European incentives to suspend all work on the nuclear fuel cycle and instead resumed uranium ore conversion.

ElBaradei had said Tuesday that "things are moving in the right direction," and identified South Africa as one of a number of third parties urging Tehran to return to the negotiating table.

On Sunday, Iran said it was ready to resume meetings with negotiators but it also refused to suspend again its sensitive nuclear activities, which is one of the conditions set by the Europeans.

The IAEA board has until November 24 to decide whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council which could impose sanctions.

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