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    Iran, EU will not discuss uranium enrichment moratorium

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    Iran's top nuclear negotiator and the EU foreign policy chief will not discuss Tehran's moratorium on uranium enrichment, the vice president of the Iranian National Atomic Energy Organization said Tuesday.

    TEHRAN, September 26 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's top nuclear negotiator and the EU foreign policy chief will not discuss Tehran's moratorium on uranium enrichment, the vice president of the Iranian National Atomic Energy Organization said Tuesday.

    Citing anonymous Bush administration sources, the Washington Times earlier in the day reported that Tehran was close to an agreement to suspend uranium enrichment for 90 days, a move regarded as a necessary precondition for additional talks with the European Union on Iran's controversial nuclear program.

    Many in the West suspect the program of covertly seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, a claim Iran has consistently rejected.

    "The imposition of a three-month moratorium on [uranium] enrichment activities will not be discussed during the upcoming talks between [Ali] Larijani and [Javier] Solana," Mohammad Saeedi said.

    Solana and Larijani, head of Iran's influential Supreme National Security Council, last met September 10 in Vienna, where the sides said some progress was made on a series of issues. Media reports suggest they will meet Tuesday in Brussels, but Solana's press service said the meeting is not on his agenda.

    On September 14, experts from Iran and the EU met to discuss Iran's atomic research program in Geneva.

    Under a UN Security Council resolution, Tehran was to have suspended uranium enrichment by August 31 as a precondition for further talks on a package of incentives that six negotiators on Iran's program -- Russia, the United Kingdom, China, France, the United States and Germany -- worked out in June.

    Tehran's response to those incentives was handed to the Iran-6 group August 22. According to media reports, Iran claims it will consider suspending its uranium enrichment program only after talks.

    Some countries propose drafting sanctions against Iran in the event talks fail. But Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday after a meeting with the leaders of France and Germany, that the leaders are committed to a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier said he sees a number of constructive aspects in Tehran's response, and that these aspects help maintain contacts between Solana and the Iranian side.

    The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1696 July 31, demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment by August 31 or face possible economic and diplomatic sanctions. However, an International Atomic Energy Agency report said Tehran refuses to suspend the program and bars inspectors from its nuclear facilities.

    Russia, which signed the UN resolution, opposes the imposition of sanctions advocated by the United States. Washington is pushing for a sanctions deadline, regardless of skepticism from Russia, China and even its European allies.

    French President Jacques Chirac advocates the continuation of dialogue, saying last week he opposes setting a deadline for sanctions, and that talks should be allowed to run their course.

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