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October 20, 2009

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Iran nuke talks get off to a good start

TALKS to persuade Iran to move most of its enriched uranium out of the country have gotten off to a "good start," the head of the UN nuclear agency said yesterday.

The comments by Mohamed ElBaradei, who leads the International Atomic Energy Agency, were significant because Iran earlier had signaled it would not meet Western demands for a deal under which it would send most of its enriched material abroad - a move that would delay its ability to make a nuclear bomb.

Tehran has said it needs enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.

But the West fears it could be used to make weapons, and the US says Iran is now one to six years away from being able to do so.

ElBaradei appeared cautiously optimistic after the first day of closed meetings between Iran and six world powers, saying most technical issues had been discussed and the parties would meet again this morning.

The delegations said little as they left the meeting. The chief Iranian delegate, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said only that he endorsed ElBaradei's comments.

Iranian agreement to ship out most of its enriched uranium would be significant because 1,000 kilograms is the commonly accepted threshold of the amount of low-enriched uranium needed for production of weapons-grade uranium enriched to levels above 90 percent.


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