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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 00:47 GMT
Iran looks to new nuclear talks
A general view of Iran's first nuclear reactor, being built in Bushehr
Iran has faced the threat of sanctions over its nuclear activities
Iran has said it is ready to consider reopening talks with the European Union on its nuclear plans amid Western fears it is seeking weapons.

The EU has been trying to get talks with Tehran back on track despite criticising it for a lack of openness.

Iran told the United Nations' nuclear watchdog it was waiting to hear from the EU countries leading the talks.

A Russian compromise proposal whereby uranium for Iran would be enriched on its territory is now being looked at.

The US and the EU suspect that Iran is pursuing a covert nuclear weapons programme but Tehran says its programme is peaceful.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been investigating the allegations.

Washington wants to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions though it backs EU diplomatic efforts.

Talks broke down in August after Iran restarted work on nuclear enrichment.

Russian compromise

The UK ambassador to the IAEA , Peter Jenkins, said it had been decided to renew diplomatic efforts after a request from the watchdog's members. He said the EU wanted to talk about a proposal to enrich uranium in Russia for use in Iranian reactors.

Iran should "seriously" consider the Russian compromise deal, he said.

Asked about the Russian proposal, Iran's representative at the IAEA, Mohamed Mehdi Akhondzadeh, told the Associated Press news agency: "We are considering it."

He said Tehran had written to the three EU countries leading the negotiations - France, Germany and the UK, known as the EU3 - to see if they could resume.

Fellow Iranian delegate Javid Vaidi said: "We are prepared to follow the path of dialogue with other countries, including the EU3."

Common ground

US ambassador Gregory Schulte told a IAEA board meeting that the US was willing "to defer for a short period the required report to the [Security] Council".

But, he added: "The board cannot and should not have unlimited patience if we seek to re-establish confidence about Iran's programme.

"Iran must understand that the report to the Council is required and will be made at a time of this board's choosing."

The IAEA was meeting to consider its response to Iran's continuing refusal to suspend its uranium conversion activities, and had not been expected to refer Iran to the UN's Security Council, the BBC's Bethany Bell in Vienna says.

While the players in the dispute appear to be trying to give diplomacy another chance, it is unclear whether there is enough common ground for it to work, she adds.

Iran insists on its right to enrich uranium on its own soil - something the US and European nations oppose - and the West maintains strong suspicions about the nature of Iran's nuclear ambitions, she says.

The IAEA is also studying a document handed over by Iran which contains information that could be used to build a nuclear bomb.


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See images from inside one of Iran's nuclear plants



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