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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Iran offers EU new nuclear talks
Generator in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station
Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes
Iran is ready to resume negotiations over its nuclear programme with three European Union states but not the US, its foreign minister has said.

Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters Iran was ready for talks with France, the UK and Germany "without preconditions".

The EU3 broke off previous talks with Tehran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

Brussels warned on Tuesday that if Iran pursued enrichment it would be a clear sign it was seeking nuclear weapons.

The EU trio last week tabled proposals for a package of incentives to persuade Iran to stop enrichment.

The proposals follow a ruling two months ago by the UN Security Council that Iran should halt its uranium enrichment activities and they were discussed with the US, Russia and China in London.

Mr Mottaki was speaking at a meeting of non-aligned states in Putrajaya, Malaysia, and the BBC's Tehran correspondent, Frances Harrison, says his announcement appears aimed at those countries.

He appears, she says, to be trying to convince non-aligned countries that Iran is the more reasonable of the parties because it is offering to negotiate at any time unconditionally.

No talks with US

The Iranian foreign minister again insisted Iran wanted enriched uranium for peaceful energy production only.

We are not going to the level of enrichment for other purposes, including military purposes
Manouchehr Mottaki
Iranian foreign minister

"The level of enrichment is enrichment for peaceful purposes... the level which makes us able to produce fuel for our nuclear power plants," he said.

"It means we are not going to the level of enrichment for other purposes, including military purposes."

Iran, he continued, was "in the research and development process and... ready to negotiate with the other parties how to take the next step".

He added that Iran was not prepared to speak directly to the US because of its "bad temperament" though the situation could change.

The US, he said, could not afford to take military action against Iranian nuclear sites because "of a lot of difficulties in Iraq and Palestine".

"They are not in a position to create a new crisis in the region," he said.

Washington is reportedly sceptical about the new Iranian offer.

"I think we've had this back and forth with them constantly," White House Deputy Spokeswoman Dana Perino was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

'Clear sign'

Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, said in Brussels that the incentives being drafted for Iran would enhance significantly its ability to produce energy.

"If they reject, it will be once again a clear sign they are looking for a level of enrichment that goes way beyond what is necessary for production of energy, to enter nuclear weapon type of enrichment that for us will be very dangerous," he told the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.

The incentives may be finalised on Thursday at a meeting in Vienna.

Measures being discussed include offering Iran help with building light water reactors that do not produce plutonium waste, a nuclear fuel bank that would guarantee Iran access to reactor fuel and various security guarantees.




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