Iran seeks guarantees from Europe on domestic nuclear fuel production

Iran said Sunday a proposed meeting with European negotiators should include guarantees that its nuclear fuel cycle will not be moved out of Iran, seemingly rejecting a floated compromise whereby the process would be moved to Russia as a guarantee against production of weapons grade uranium.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said the talks with Europe should be logical, in the framework of international regulations and without any discrimination against Iran. He said Iran had not received an official proposal for European negotiations, nor had it heard from Russia about the enrichment plan.

Earlier diplomats in Vienna said senior French, British and German officials agreed on Dec. 6 as a possible date for talks with Iranian negotiators to make a last-ditch effort to convince Tehran to accept a compromise proposal under which its uranium enrichment program would be moved to Russia to ensure it cannot be secretly used for a weapons program.

It came after Europe and the United States backed off threats to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program. On Thursday, the 35-board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency met on Iran's nuclear file after the United States and Europe warned of U.N. Security Council action, accusing Iran of having documents that show how to produce parts of nuclear warheads.

Iran has been under intense pressure to curb its nuclear program, which the United States claims is part of an effort to produce nuclear weapons. Iran denies such claims and says its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity. But it insists that it has the right to fully develop its nuclear program, including enrichment of nuclear fuel.

Asefi reiterated that Russia has not proposed any plan to Iran. He said Iran prefers to decide about its Natanz enrichment plant in central Iran through negotiations, though he pointed out that Tehran has voluntarily suspended activity there.

Iran has temporarily stopped its enrichment program, but negotiations between it and Britain, France and Germany broke off in August after Tehran unfroze another part of its program _ the conversion of raw uranium into the gas that is used as the feeder stock in enrichment, the AP reports. Iran has also rejected European calls to halt work at its uranium conversion facility near city of Isfahan in central Iran.


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