U.N. to hold emergency meeting on Iran's nuclear programm

The U.N. nuclear agency confirmed it will hold an emergency meeting next week to discuss ways to stop Iran from resuming uranium conversion.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors will convene at 10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) Tuesday at the agency's headquarters in Vienna, spokesman Peter Rickwood said.

The board was expected to formally warn Iran not to take any action until it can monitor its nuclear activities and to review a package of EU incentives aimed at resolving the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.

The IAEA could report Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose economic and political sanctions. On Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said such a move has been Washington's "long-standing position" if Tehran refuses to relent.

European negotiators on Friday handed Iran a proposal for breaking the impasse by offering trade, political, technical and security cooperation and the possibility for Tehran to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, France's foreign minister said.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said he considered the proposals by France, Germany and Britain _ which have been negotiating with Iran on behalf of the European Union _ to be "ambitious and generous."

Douste-Blazy's ministry confirmed the incentives had been submitted to Tehran on Friday but declined to give details, saying France wanted to give Iran time to study them.

"I hope that Iran will hear the voice of reason and that it will take the path of negotiation and dialogue, and that it will not move toward a resumption of nuclear activities," he told Europe-1 radio.

The Europeans, backed by the United States, are offering the incentives in exchange for Iran resolving concerns that its nuclear program is aimed at producing weapons. Despite its large oil reserves, Iran insists it is interested only in producing nuclear power.

Tehran threatened to resume uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant starting Wednesday, sparking harsh criticism from the EU, the United States and others. The IAEA has been urging the country not to break its seals at the plant until a surveillance system had been installed.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani, said Tehran would push back the reopening of the plant until early next week to give the IAEA time to install surveillance equipment.

Iran had agreed with representatives from Britain, Germany and France to freeze uranium conversion and related activities until negotiations about the future of its nuclear program were finished, the AP reports. The country invited the IAEA to verify the suspension beginning in November last year.

Uranium conversion produces uranium gas, the feedstock for uranium enrichment. Highly enriched uranium can be used to make weapons while uranium enriched to lower levels is used to produce energy.

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