Iran Nuke Chief to Meet With EU Diplomat on Saturday

Iran's top nuclear negotiator and the European Union's foreign policy chief will meet Saturday in Portugal for a new round of talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear program, state television reported.

The talks will be a follow-up to discussions held last month in Spain between Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani and the EU envoy, Javier Solana, according to a statement from Iran's Supreme National Security Council carried Tuesday on state TV.

The main purpose of the last set of Iran-EU talks was to find a way to bridge the impasse over Iran's rejection of U.N. Security Council demands that it suspend uranium enrichment. The enrichment process can produce fuel for civilian energy or fissile material for a bomb, depending on the level of enrichment.

The United States and some of its allies fear that Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to produce atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is geared toward generating electricity.

At their last meeting, Larijani told Solana that Iran was ready to remove ambiguities related to its nuclear activities, but a senior Iranian envoy recently canceled talks with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, dashing hopes that Tehran is ready to change its behavior.

The U.S. has refused to hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program unless it first suspends uranium enrichment — a demand Tehran has rejected.

Iran says it is too late to stop Iran's nuclear program because it has already achieved proficiency in the cycle of nuclear fuel — from extracting uranium ore to enriching it.

Tehran has vowed it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.

The U.N. Security Council voted to impose new sanctions on Iran in March as part of a new set of penalties against Tehran over its refusal to suspend enrichment.