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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2006, 09:37 GMT
Iran eyes Russia nuclear proposal
Natanz nuclear facility in Iran
Iran has broken the seals on three nuclear facilities
Iran is "positive" about a plan to enrich uranium in Russia as a way of easing controversy over its nuclear programme, its nuclear negotiator says.

Ali Larijani made the statement after meeting Russia's security chief, Igor Ivanov, and other officials in Moscow.

But Mr Larijani warned Iran would begin enriching uranium on its own territory if Western countries referred it to the UN Security Council for sanctions.

Western countries suspect that Tehran may be seeking to develop nuclear arms.

However, Iran insists its programme is solely aimed at meeting its energy needs.

Enrichment

Russia has proposed that Iran conduct uranium enrichment inside Russian territory in order to allay those fears.

"We assess this proposal positively, and we are trying to bring the position of the sides closer," Mr Larijani told reporters after the meeting.

IRAN'S NUCLEAR STANDOFF
Sept 2002: Work begins on Iran's first reactor at Bushehr
Dec 2002: Satellites reveal Arak and Natanz sites, triggering IAEA inspections
Nov 2003: Iran suspends uranium enrichment and allows tougher inspections
June 2004: IAEA rebukes Iran for not fully co-operating
Nov 2004: Iran suspends enrichment under deal with EU
Aug 2005: Iran rejects EU plan and re-opens Isfahan plant
Jan 2006: Iran re-opens Natanz facility

"This plan can be improved during the future negotiations in February."

The statement comes a week before the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), meets to discuss whether to refer Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

China has said it is studying that proposal, but believes the dispute can still be solved by diplomatic means.

Mr Larijani urged IAEA members not to refer Iran to the Security Council, warning that it would prompt it to forge ahead with a full-scale uranium enrichment programme.

"If the governing council [of the IAEA] puts political pressure on the agency to transfer our dossier, then this will be a useless step for the world and security in the region in general," the Russian Interfax and Itar-Tass news agencies reported Mr Larijani as saying.

"In those conditions, our activities will not be limited to scientific research. Then we will start industrial production."

Talks on Iran's nuclear programme between Tehran and the EU3 of Britain, France and Germany stalled after it resumed nuclear fuel research earlier this month.



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