TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran and U.N. nuclear experts will hold fresh round of talks in the Islamic state this week aimed at clarifying aspects of the country’s disputed nuclear programme, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
Iran agreed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on August 21 to explain the scope of its nuclear programme, which the West fears is a cover for building a bomb. Iran says its atomic work is aimed at generating electricity.
As part of the agreement, an Iranian team and the IAEA held a two-day meeting in September to answer outstanding questions over centrifuges Iran uses to enrich uranium.
“The next round of talks will be held on Tuesday to continue discussions about P1 and P2 centrifuges,” Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a weekly news conference. Centrifuges can enrich uranium to weapons-grade.
Iran uses a 1970s vintage of centrifuge, called P-1s, prone to breakdown if spun at high speed for long periods but is researching an advanced P-2 model at sites off limits to IAEA inspectors.
The deal with the IAEA allows Iran to settle questions one by one over a timeline the agency says would run to December — even as it adds centrifuges to its Natanz enrichment plant, nearing the 3,000 needed to start producing usable quantities of nuclear fuel.
The U.N. Security Council has slapped two rounds of sanctions on Tehran for its refusal to halt enrichment.
Major powers have agreed not to impose further U.N. sanctions until November, to see whether the pact between Iran and the IAEA yields results, and to await a report by EU negotiator Javier Solana on talks with Iran.
However, the Security Council and Germany are negotiating on a third resolution against Tehran, and France and Germany signaled on Friday that Europe could punish Iran for pressing ahead with its nuclear work before further U.N. sanctions.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Saturday France’s call for EU sanctions against Tehran outside the U.N. framework was illegal, reiterating Iran would go ahead with its nuclear programme.