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EU Ministers Encourage 'Momentum' In Iran Talks

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (file photo) (epa) BRUSSELS, September 15, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels today expressed hope for a "breakthrough" in contacts with Iran over the country's nuclear project.

After the meeting, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja speaking as the current EU chair, said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has the full backing of the entire EU in his negotiations with Tehran.

"We gave our full support to Solana's efforts to find a breakthrough for a diplomatic solution," Tuomioja said. "The package remains there, we hope that we can -- or rather Javier Solana can -- finalize the negotiations in such a way which will pave the way for negotiations meeting the conditions set by the United Nations."

Solana, negotiating on behalf of the so-called EU-3 -- comprising Britain, Germany, and France -- said his contacts with Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani have taken place in a "good atmosphere."

However, Solana said he was uncertain when the next meeting will take place, adding he "does not want to lose momentum."

An EU source present at today's ministers' meeting, told RFE/RL it appears Iran's leaders have yet to decide on a clear course of action.

Talking Technical

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.