Sun, Nov 14, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Iran says it has cooperated fully

NUCLEAR AMBITIONS The country has done all it can to meet European and IAEA demands and the ball is now in its critics' court, a minister said

AFP , TEHRAN

Iran insisted yesterday it has gone as far as it could to meet the demands of Europe and the rest of the international community over its nuclear activities, and said the ball was now in their court.

"We did our utmost to cooperate with the agency and build the needed confidence. Iran can take no further measures," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said, referring to the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

European and Iranian officials have been locked in talks to try to avoid possible UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, in a wrangle that has led the IAEA to hold up issuing a key report on the standoff.

Britain, France and Germany are trying to persuade Iran to suspend crucial nuclear fuel cycle activities including the enrichment of uranium to ease international concern over what the United States alleges is a covert weapons drive.

In return, Europe's three major powers are offering Iran civilian nuclear technology, including access to nuclear fuel, increased trade and help with Tehran's regional security concerns.

Iranian officials handed their reply on the proposed deal late Thursday to the three countries and to Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief.

"The two sides were able to work out a joint proposal and the Iranian side has submitted its decision. Now it is the turn of the Europeans to submit theirs," Kharazi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

"Talks with the Europeans will continue. If they agree with what we have proposed, further negotiations will be held that could consolidate Iran's claim," he added.

"I will never give up any opportunity for talks and will not refuse to negotiate with anyone who signifies a desire to speed up the resolution of this issue if there is any."

The IAEA, which is meeting on November 25 to discuss Iran, had been due to issue a report on the crisis on Friday.

Iran has long denied allegations it is seeking to build nuclear weapons and says that the fuel cycle work, including uranium enrichment, is permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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