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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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Iran Discussing Nuclear Program in Geneva

VOA News 06 December 2010

Iran's top nuclear negotiator has started talks with the European Union foreign affairs chief in Geneva to discuss Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

Saeed Jalili is meeting with the EU's Catherine Ashton along with senior diplomats from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

Iranian media say Jalili began the talks by strongly protesting against the killing last week of a senior Iranian nuclear scientist. Separately in Greece, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said he hopes the talks will continue in a "constructive manner" and reach a positive outcome.

The two-day talks are the first time negotiators have met on the issue in more than a year. Expectations are low, with experts saying the biggest hope is that the recent meeting leads to more talks.

The latest round of negotiations come a day after Iran's nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said his country is "self-sufficient" in the entire nuclear fuel cycle after producing a first batch of the uranium concentrate known as yellowcake.

Salehi made the announcement on Iranian state television Sunday, but he did not say how much yellowcake had been produced so far.

A senior fellow at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mark Fitzpatrick, disputed Salehi's statement that Iran's nuclear program is now self-sufficient. He says the country needs to find considerably more good quality uranium ore for that to happen.

Fitzpatrick says experts believe Iran has already been able to produce yellowcake, but that the production is on a small scale.

Iran continues to insist its nuclear program is designed to produce energy, not make weapons. But a White House official Mike Hammer in Washington said the recent announcement "calls into further question Iran's intentions and raises additional concerns."



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