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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Iran denies uranium suspension reports

VIENNA, Austria (AFP) - Iran has not proposed suspending uranium enrichment for up to two months, the Iranian ambassador to the UN nuclear watchdog agency in Vienna told AFP Sunday in response to press reports.

"Such a thing has not been discussed" in the two days of meetings between European foreign policy chief Javier Solana and top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, part of the Iranian delegation at the talks.

Solana and Larijani said Sunday they had made progress in last-ditch talks to avert UN sanctions over Iran's uranium enrichment and would meet again this week.

Solana said the two men "had cleared up some of the misunderstanding that existed" over Iran's response to an offer of benefits from six world powers.

The benefits were conditional on Tehran heeding a United Nations Security Council call to freeze work on enrichment, which makes nuclear reactor fuel but also atom bomb material.

Iran refuses to suspend enrichment ahead of talks on benefits but has said it might be willing to consider a suspension once talks had started.

The talks come as the United States is pushing for sanctions at the Security Council to punish Iran's defiance of a UN August 31 deadline for it to halt enrichment.

Solana and Larijani were believed to be trying a find a face-saving deal.

Iran says its nuclear program is a peaceful effort to generate electricity but the United States charges that Tehran is secretly developing atomic weapons.

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