Iran Hopeful on EU Nuke Deal

Iran's (search) foreign minister expressed hope Tuesday that his country could reach a fruitful agreement with the European Union (search) on its nuclear activities.

The European Union is trying to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program, which the United States fears could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons (search). Iran has repeatedly insisted its nuclear activities are peaceful.

"(The negotiations) are moving, but the final evaluation will be by mid-March," Foreign Minister Kamel Kharrazi said after a meeting in Hungary's capital. "We have to wait until then to have exactly our conclusion on how the negotiations have gone."

Under a deal struck last year with France, Britain and Germany, Iran suspended its uranium enrichment program amid talks on economic, political and technological aid. Iran plans to decide soon whether to continue its suspension, which is monitored by U.N. nuclear inspectors.

"We are hopeful that it (negotiations) may lead to very fruitful agreement," Kharrazi said.

Asked about North Korea's recent announcement that it possessed nuclear weapons, he said the Iranian situation was different because, unlike Pyongyang, Tehran allows the U.N. nuclear agency to inspect.

He said Iran was honoring the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the international agreement barring the spread of nuclear weapons.

"Iran has been sticking to membership of the NPT and has always welcomed the inspectors of the IAEA," he said. "The IAEA inspectors are currently in Iran carrying out inspections."