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Iran to Continue Enriching Uranium, Regardless of Talks

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An Iranian official says Tehran will not abandon its uranium enrichment activities, regardless of the outcome of talks with world powers.

A spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Shirzadian, made the comments to Iran's state-run news agency (IRNA), just hours before talks begin in Vienna about Iran's controversial nuclear program.

The discussions among representatives from Iran, Russia, France, the U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency are expected to focus on a proposal to have Iran ship uranium to Russia and France for conversion to reactor fuel.

Shirzadian says Iran will continue to enrich uranium at a lower level, even if Tehran agrees to accept more highly-enriched uranium from Russia and France.

Western diplomats consider third-party processing to be a confidence-building measure. They say it will ensure that Iran's uranium is enriched to levels suitable for civilian use but below what is needed for nuclear weapons.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt its enrichment activities.

The two-day talks beginning Monday in Vienna follow up on the October 1 meeting between Iran and six world powers in Geneva.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad heralded those talks as "positive" and a "step forward."

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

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