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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Larijani reluctant to discuss enrichment ban with Solana

RIA Novosti

24/04/2007 15:10 TEHRAN, April 24 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's top nuclear negotiator is reluctant to discuss the resumption of a moratorium on uranium enrichment at the upcoming talks in Turkey with Europe's foreign policy chief, an Iranian government official spokesman said Tuesday.

Talks in Ankara between Javier Solana and Iran's Ali Larijani, scheduled for April 25 through 26, will be another attempt to resolve a dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which Western nations and Israel suspect is a covert weapons program, while the Islamic Republic has consistently claimed it is pursuing civilian nuclear generation.

"We will continue developing peaceful nuclear technologies, and there are no logical reasons for stopping or going back to the past," Gholam Hossein Elham said.

Since Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, the West has pressed for halting research on uranium, which can be used to produce nuclear weapons. In October, the EU said talks with Tehran had failed, and later declared support for sanctions against the Islamic Republic that the UN Security Council introduced in December and toughened in March.

Tehran responded by saying it would restrict cooperation with UN nuclear inspectors until its nuclear file is referred back to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, from the UN Security Council.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced earlier this month that his country had started industrial scale production of uranium, which only aggravated the standoff.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said the initiative to hold the talks in Ankara came from both Solana and Larijani.

"New opportunities appeared, and they [the sides] decided to meet. Turkey in its turn agreed to host the meeting and we hope it leads to positive results," said Gul, who is also deputy prime minister.

Ahead of the talks, Solana said he could not guarantee that the negotiations would be a success.

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