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IAEA Says Iran Launches New Round of Uranium Enrichment


The U.N. nuclear agency says Iran launched a new round of uranium enrichment this week as world powers offered Tehran incentives aimed at halting its nuclear work.

A report Thursday from the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has installed more equipment to expand its enrichment operations. The report also says Iranian officials have declined to answer questions that would clarify aspects of its nuclear program.

The report was circulated Thursday among the U.N. agency's members ahead of an I.A.E.A. board meeting next week.

The United States says Iran must suspend all enrichment activities in order to accept an international incentives package and return to multilateral nuclear talks. The package is believed to includes a threat of sanctions if Iran fails to cooperate.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country is willing to negotiate about "common concerns" and to clear up "misunderstandings in the international arena." But he says Iran will not give up its right to advanced technology.

The incentives package offered by the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany reportedly includes international support for Iran's effort to build a nuclear power plant. The U.S. would also agree to drop some trade sanctions and allow Iran to buy spare parts for its aging fleet of American-made aircraft.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana delivered the package to Iranian officials this week.

The United States and Europe suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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