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World

Defiant Iran says nuclear position is 'non-negotiable'

Diplomats from several world powers met with Iran on Monday to discuss its nuclear program. Before the meeting, the 5 + 1 team said it would hold firm to its position that Iran should stop enriching uranium.

Nuclear power plant in Iran

Iran says it is now producing uranium domestically

Day one of the first talks in more than a year between Iran and six world powers about Iran's nuclear program wrapped up on Monday in Geneva.

While both sides do not consider a breakthrough in negotiations likely, gradual confidence-building is seen as an attainable goal. The second of three days of talks was due to begin on Tuesday.

The United States, Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China (the so-called 5 + 1 group) are worried Iran could use its uranium enrichment plants to make fuel for warheads rather than reactors.

5 + 1 want Tehran to stop enrichment

Catherine Ashton and Saeed Jalili

Chief negotiators Catherine Ashton and Iran's Saeed Jalili

The 5 + 1 diplomatic team is headed by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and it is expected they will hold firm in demanding that Iran cooperate fully with the IAEA and obey the provisions of various Security Council resolutions which state that it should stop enriching uranium.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has called on Iran to take advantage of the opportunity offered in Geneva and create some necessary transparency in its nuclear program.

A nuclear-armed Iran would create "unpredictable consequences for regional and international stability," said Westerwelle.

However the civil use of nuclear energy would be tolerated, he added.

Sanctions fail

Four rounds of United Nations sanctions have not been able to pressure Tehran's leaders to halt enrichment.

Iran says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes. Over the weekend, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said Iran's right to seek nuclear technology was "non-negotiable."

On Sunday, Iran claimed to have become self-sufficient in uranium concentrate, or yellowcake. According to the Khabar news network, the first batch was produced in the Gachin uranium mine in southern Iran.

Iran's Atomic Chief Ali-Akbar Salehi said the process was made under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Author: Catherine Bolsover, Matt Zuvela (dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

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