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EU rejects Iran call to speed up nuclear talks
01 Feb 2005 14:39:45 GMT
Source: Reuters
BRUSSELS, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The European Union rejected on Tuesday a call by Iran to speed up talks on its disputed nuclear programme, insisting the pace of negotiations was right and that the dialogue was on track.

Iran, which denies U.S. accusations that it is seeking nuclear weapons, has agreed to freeze potentially arms-related uranium enrichment activities while the talks continue but has shown impatience with the dialogue launched last December.

Gholam Reza Aqazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, told reporters after meeting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana that he had called for an acceleration of the talks.

"The issue is not pace but substance," Solana's spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said in response.

"We say that this is the right pace. On our side, we say the process is on track," she added.

Germany, France and Britain, acting for the EU, hope to persuade Tehran to permanently scrap processes such as uranium enrichment -- a possible path to the atomic bomb -- in return for political and economic incentives.

But Tehran has so far refused to back down from its position that it be allowed to continue its entire nuclear programme, with guarantees that it will not try to make atomic bombs.

Diplomats close to the talks have told Reuters the only such guarantee acceptable to the so-called "EU3" countries would be a complete end to enrichment.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani has insisted Iran will resume enrichment if the EU talks, which have no formal deadline, show no progress. A new round is due soon, with Feb. 7 mooted as a possible date.

Aqazadeh said he hoped the next encounter would be "more precise and targeted".

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