Iran nuclear talks planned for Monday in Vienna

TEHERAN (AFP) - Experts from Iran and the six major powers overseeing a landmark interim nuclear agreement will meet Monday in Vienna to discuss its implementation with UN inspectors, an Iranian negotiator said.

"On Monday, we will have another expert-level meeting with the six countries and (EU foreign policy chief Catherine) Ashton's team," Iran's lead negotiator Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying Sunday by the ISNA news agency.

Representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is supervising the implementation of the agreement, will also be present, he said.

In November, Iran and the so-called P5+1 - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany - reached a historic agreement in which Teheran is to curb its controversial nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

The accord was aimed at buying time for a comprehensive agreement to reassure Western nations that Iran's nuclear programme is not aimed at developing atomic weapons. Teheran has always insisted its programme is entirely peaceful.

The IAEA does not have a permanent presence in Iran but regularly inspects several sensitive nuclear sites.

Mr Araqchi said Iranian banking and sanctions experts would also be present at the meeting, adding that several such meetings will be held over the next six months "so that the Geneva deal can hopefully achieve its objectives."

Under the six-month interim deal, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment to the five percent level required for civilian power plants.

It also agreed to dilute or oxidise its entire supply of 20 per cent enriched uranium, which is a major source of concern in the West because it is much closer to the more than 90 per cent level required for a weapon.

In return, the P5+1 agreed to some US$7 billion (S$ 8.7 billion) of temporary and reversible sanctions relief, while leaving the bulk of sanctions - including crippling limits on Iran's oil and banking sector - in place.