Diplomats told Reuters in Vienna on Tuesday that Iran had agreed in principle to halt production, testing and assembly of uranium enrichment centrifuges. Washington says Iran plans to use the centrifuges to make bomb-grade material. Reuters
TEHRAN - Iran's chief nuclear negotiator acknowledged on Wednesday that Tehran was in talks to renew its freeze of some sensitive nuclear activities.
Diplomats told Reuters in Vienna on Tuesday that Iran had agreed in principle to halt production, testing and assembly of uranium enrichment centrifuges. Washington says Iran plans to use the centrifuges to make bomb-grade material.
Hassan Rohani, secretary-general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, asked by reporters about whether talks had taken place to resume a freeze of enrichment activities, said:
"Yes I admit Iran had talks with Europe. These are important issues which it is too early to talk about."
"Whenever we get closer to enrichment the Europeans' sensitivity rises but when we take distance from it they become happy and their tone regarding us softens," the official IRNA news agency quoted Rohani as saying.
Iran denies any ambition to build nuclear weapons but is eager to undermine U.S. efforts to have its nuclear case reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
The board of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), meets in Vienna next week and could refer Iran's case to the Security Council.
While Washington has pushed for tough action against Iran, European countries led by Britain, Germany and France have championed a diplomatic approach.
Last year the three big European Union powers struck a deal with Tehran which agreed to temporarily suspend building, assembling and testing uranium enrichment centrifuges.
Angered by a tough IAEA resolution in June rebuking it for inadequate cooperation with U.N. inspectors, Tehran announced it would resume its enrichment work.
Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday was dismissive of Iran's apparent agreement to renew the enrichment freeze, saying "we have seen enough" of Tehran's nuclear ambitions to warrant punitive action.
Iran insists it has cooperated well with the IAEA and that its case should be closed since a two-year investigation by U.N. inspectors has failed to uncover any evidence of a nuclear weapons program.
"If the IAEA reports Iran's case to the Security Council, it will obviously be a politically-motivated decision ... There are no technical and legal reasons for Iran's case to be reported to the council," Rohani said.