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. Iran talks planned, but hopes low
VIENNA (AFP) Dec 10, 2005
The European Union and Iran will hold nuclear talks December 21 but expectations Tehran will abandon possibly weapons-related atomic activities are "very low," diplomats said Saturday,

The diplomats said the sides will meet without Russian experts as originally planned.

"December 21 is confirmed. It will probably be in Vienna but the venue is not totally locked up," one Western diplomat said.

"Expectations are very low." he said, requesting anonymity. "The EU-3 (Britain, France and Germany) expect Iran to press for agreement on a pilot centrifuge plant. The EU-3 will make clear that that is unacceptable, and that time is about to run out on the Iranians."

Centrifuges enrich gaseous uranium for use in reactors -- or bombs.

The meeting will "talk about talks," to see if it is possible to resume ministerial talks seeking guarantees Iran will not make nuclear weapons, a European diplomat said

EU-Iran talks collapsed in August when Tehran ended its suspension of uranium conversion, a first step towards enrichment.

The climate for talks is abysmal after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned the Holocaust and suggesting Israel be relocated to Europe.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Saturday, said the international community was losing patience with Iran.

Iran's nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told AFP Iran could soon resume making centrifuges and conducting "research."

Iran will resume enrichment but not during talks with the EU, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholam Reza Aghazedeh, said Saturday.

The EU and the United States fear Iran is developing nuclear weapons but Iran says its program is peaceful.

The IAEA has said Iran is not complying with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which could lead to referral to the UN Security Council and possible sanctions.

The IAEA last month put off such action after the EU-3 agreed to give time for Russian diplomacy to work.

Russia, which is building Iran's first power reactor, proposed allowing Iran to enrich fuel in Russia, but Tehran refused.

Russia and China, which have strong economic ties to Iran, oppose referral to the Security Council.

But the Western diplomat said "even the Russians are distancing themselves from Iran's unpredictable tactics.

"If Iran does anything on enrichment, the West believes that Russia won't stop the IAEA from reporting Iran to the United Nations Security Council," he said.

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