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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

France to continue discussions on nuclear fuel supplies to Iran

RIA Novosti

19:20 20/10/2009 PARIS, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - France will not pull out of uranium enrichment talks with Iran, despite the Islamic Republic's insistence that Paris's participation is unnecessary, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

The Vienna talks were convened to discuss proposals for France and Russia to enrich uranium for Iran in order to ease international suspicions of a covert Iranian atomic weapons program. Iran already produces low-enriched uranium (up to the 5% level), but says it wants to buy higher-enriched fuel (up to 20%) for a research reactor in Tehran.

On Monday, however, Iranian state media said that Tehran had excluded France from a list of potential suppliers of highly-enriched uranium as Paris had not fulfilled "previous obligations regarding nuclear cooperation with Iran." On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said there was "no point" in France taking part in the talks.

"It is a meeting of experts, in which we are participating. The discussions are continuing," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said. "There are many technical parameters to take into account for the supply of nuclear fuel and we will see later which states take part."

Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, said that Monday's talks between Iran the United States, France and Russia on a new uranium enrichment deal were off to a good start, but the second day of talks had been delayed.

Press TV said Western countries have proposed that Iran exchange its low-enriched uranium (LEU) for higher-enriched uranium, but that Iran wants to keep its LEU inside the country and buy the more highly-enriched fuel.

Iran is under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. The country recently admitted having a second uranium enrichment site in Qom, sparking international calls for harsher sanctions.

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