AFP: Iran is prepared to suspend uranium enrichment for a maximum of six months during negotiations with European countries, but will never agree to permanently halt the practice, one of its top nuclear negotiators said on Tuesday.
"We have told them (the Europeans) that an indefinite suspension is unacceptable," Hossein Mousavian told AFP. AFP

TEHRAN - Iran is prepared to suspend uranium enrichment for a maximum of six months during negotiations with European countries, but will never agree to permanently halt the practice, one of its top nuclear negotiators said on Tuesday.

"We have told them (the Europeans) that an indefinite suspension is unacceptable," Hossein Mousavian told AFP.

Asked about the period during which Iran would accept to suspend enrichment, Mousavian said: "I think the negotiations (to reach an agreement with the Europeans) could last up to at most six months, not more."

Representatives of Europe's three main countries -- Germany, France and Britain -- are to hold a third round of negotiations on Friday in Paris with Iran in order to convince Tehran to halt all uranium enrichment activities.

Mousavian described the meeting in Paris as "crucial", although he did not rule out further such meetings. "We have to come to some kind of understanding," he said.

"Cessation is rejected, indefinite suspension is rejected, suspension shall be a confidence building measure and a voluntary decision by Iran and in no way a legal obligation, and this has to be clear in our understanding," he said.

Officials from Europe have made clear they want to signal to Iran at the meeting that time is running out for the Islamic Republic to reach an agreement.

In return for full suspension of uranium enrichment by Iran, the EU is offering peaceful nuclear technology, including nuclear fuel, as well as trade advantages and support on security issues.

However, Mousavian demanded "clarifications" from the European side before talks can start about suspension." We have to clear the (nuclear technology) package before we talk about suspension."

"We have explained to them that the package can not be accepted as it is, it is completely unbalanced," he said.

"There is no clear commitment from the Europeans, and commitments should be mutual," he added.

Mousavian predicted that the chances for a compromise were "50-50".