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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 October, 2004, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Iran to continue EU nuclear talks
Preliminary installation of a turbo generator at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant
Iran denies claims that it wants to build nuclear weapons
Iran says it will continue a dialogue with three European countries, after holding talks with them in Vienna on concerns over its nuclear programme.

In closed-door talks Britain, France and Germany offered incentives to Iran to give up its plans to enrich uranium.

An Iranian official said Tehran will consider the European offer, but gave no sign it is about to accept.

The meetings took place a month before the UN rules on whether or not the country is co-operating.

Sirius Naseri, a spokesman for the Iranian delegation said the talks were in the initial stages and had taken place in a good atmosphere.

"We will go back to our capital to try to find a compromise which is acceptable to both sides," he said.

Abandonment of enrichment - a key process for the production of atomic bombs - is a central demand on the European side.

The United States has led international concern over Iran's intentions, questioning why a country rich in oil and gas deposits would require nuclear energy too.

The BBC's Kerry Skyring in Vienna says Western diplomats close to the talks say there is not much hope Tehran will suspend its enrichment programme.

Reactor offer

Foreign ministry officials from the three European countries met an Iranian envoy at a secret location in Vienna to avoid media attention.

The Austrian capital is home to the International Atomic Energy Agency, due to rule on 25 November on the level of Iran's co-operation.

A negative decision could lead to the issue being referred to the UN Security Council with the threat of sanctions.

Iranian Shahab-3 missile at a military parade in Tehran
A day before the talks, Iran tested a missile thought nuclear capable
According to a document leaked to news agencies, incentives likely to be offered on Thursday include an offer of nuclear technology such as a light-water reactor in return for proof that Tehran is not covertly trying to build weapons.

The US state department has queried the wisdom of offering Iran - which largely relies on Russia for its programme - further new technology.

Speaking to reporters, spokesman Richard Boucher remarked:

"We don't see the economic or any other rationale for a country like Iran to try to generate power with nuclear energy, given that... they flare off way more gas every year than they could get energy from nuclear power plants of the kind that they're talking about."

Iranian President Mohamed Khatami has been saying his country will render any kind of co-operation to prove to the outside world it is not moving towards a weapons programme.

But he said his country's "legitimate rights... to nuclear technology" had to be respected.

The timing of the announcement was no coincidence

Why a nuclear programme is so important to Iran

Washington PostIran Agrees to Consider E.U. Offer on Nuclear Program - 3 hrs ago
New York Times Iran's Nuclear Threat - 8 hrs ago
Irish TimesTehran remains non-committal on EU nuclear energy offer - 9 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Nuclear options - 10 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com Iran Unlikely to Make Nuclear Concessions - 13 hrs ago
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