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Annan says nuclear talks with Iran started well

Annan says nuclear talks with Iran started well and ‘seem to be moving forward’

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that European Union-led talks with Iran over its nuclear ambitions had got off to a “reasonably good start” and appeared to be moving forward.

“I think we’ve all been monitoring very closely the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue. I’m pleased that it seems to be moving forward, and Mr. (Javier) Solana had very good discussions in Tehran,” the Secretary-General told reporters, referring to the EU’s foreign policy chief.

“And I think we are off to a reasonably good start. And I am hopeful that this time it will lead to serious negotiations where all the parties will find themselves at the table.”

Last Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – the UN atomic watchdog – again called on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, the condition set by the United States for joining in the discussions with the Islamic Republic aimed at ensuring its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.

Earlier this year, the IAEA referred the issue to the Security Council, which can impose sanctions, after its Director-General, Mohammed ElBaradei, reported that although the Agency had not seen any diversion of material to nuclear weapons or other explosive devices, it was still not able to conclude that there were no undeclared Iranian nuclear materials or activities.

Iran says its activities are solely for energy purposes but the United States and other countries insist it is clandestinely seeking to produce nuclear weapons. Last August, Iran rescinded its voluntary suspension of nuclear fuel conversion, which can produce the enriched uranium necessary either for nuclear power generation or for nuclear weapons.

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