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G8 Calls For Iran, North Korea To Return To Talks --> Kim Jong-Il, the leader of North Korea (right), pictured in 2005 (AFP) July 17, 2006 -- Leaders at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg today called on Iran and North Korea to return to talks to address international concerns about their nuclear ambitions.

In a statement, leaders of the group of eight leading industrialized states said they are especially concerned by the failure of the Iranian government to respond seriously to a recent incentives package proposed by the UN Security Council's five permanent members, plus Germany.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said "we would like the Iranian leadership to react as soon as possible to the proposals made by the six countries so that negotiations can start as soon as possible on the basis of the proposals made by the six countries."

Putin said it is premature to discuss possible sanctions on Iran, which he said would create unfavorable conditions for negotiations.

A G8 statement also expressed concern at North Korea's recent missile launches and called the country to return to six-party talks.

(Reuters, ITAR-TASS)

Talking Technical

A control panel at the Bushehr nuclear power plant (Fars)

CASCADES AND CENTRIFUGES: Experts and pundits alike continue to debate the goals and status of Iran's nuclear program. It remains unclear whether the program is, as Tehran insists, a purely peaceful enegy project or, as the United States claims, part of an effort to acquire nuclear weapons.
On June 7, 2006, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with nuclear expert Shannon Kile of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden to help sort through some of the technical issues involved. "[Natanz] will be quite a large plant," Kile said. "There will be about 50,000 centrifuges and how much enriched uranium that can produce [is] hard to say because the efficiency of the centrifuges is not really known yet. But it would clearly be enough to be able to produce enough [highly-enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, if that's the route that they chose to go...." (more)


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THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.