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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran nuclear program talks could begin immediately - Larijani

RIA Novosti

26/04/2007 13:51 ANKARA, April 26 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's talks with the European Union concerning its nuclear program could begin immediately, the Islamic Republic's top nuclear negotiator said Thursday at a news conference with a European Union high representative.

EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and Ali Larijani held a two-day meeting in Ankara aimed at overcoming the crisis around the Iranian nuclear program, which Western nations and Israel suspect is a covert weapons program. The Islamic Republic has consistently claimed it is pursuing civilian nuclear power generation.

"We have had positive and constructive talks with Javier Solana. I hope talks will be resumed. They could be started immediately," Larijani said, adding that the situation should be settled within the framework of international law.

Solana in turn said he hopes EU-Iran talks will be continued, and that the Iran problem will be settled through diplomatic means.

"Of course, no miracle happened at the talks in Ankara. But it was not our last meeting," he said.

Solana and Larijani announced Wednesday that EU-Iran talks on the Iran nuclear program will continue in two weeks.

Since Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, the country has been the focus of international concerns, as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program. But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.

The UN Security Council passed a new resolution on Iran March 24 over its refusal to abandon its nuclear program, toughening economic sanctions against the country and accepting the possibility of a military solution to the crisis.

But in defiance of international efforts, Iran announced in April it had started production of nuclear fuel on an industrial scale, and voiced its determination to defend a legitimate right to possess nuclear power.

High-ranking Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have repeatedly stated that Iran would not discuss shutting down its uranium enrichment program even if discussions with five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are resumed.

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