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Iran says gave nuclear answers to U.N. watchdog

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran gave the U.N. nuclear watchdog “the necessary information” to remove ambiguities about a key part of its nuclear programme in talks that ended on Thursday, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying.

The head of the Iranian delegation, Javad Vaeedi, said both sides expressed satisfaction about the negotiations after a four-day meeting in Tehran meant to help clear up suspicions about its atomic activities, Iran’s state broadcaster reported.

Vaeedi told the Mehr News Agency it was the last meeting about centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium, before a crucial mid-November report by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

World powers are due to meet in London on Friday to discuss a possible third round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt work the West fears is aimed at making nuclear bombs.

After stonewalling the U.N. agency for years, Iran pledged in August to answer questions about past secret aspects of its programme by the end of 2007 in the hope of warding off tougher U.N. sanctions.

The IAEA has withheld comment on whether Iran, in a series of talks since August, has been resolving the issues of transparency one by one as promised.

This week’s talks covered questions about Iran’s development of centrifuges used to enrich uranium, which can fuel power plants, but also, if refined further, provide material for bombs.

Iran uses a breakdown-prone 1970s vintage of centrifuge, called the “P-1”. It is researching an advanced P-2 model able to refine uranium much faster, using less energy, at sites off limits to IAEA inspectors.

“The Iranian delegation and the delegation from the agency ... expressed satisfaction about the trend of talks on the issues of P-1 and P-2,” Vaeedi was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster.

“The head of the agency’s delegation (IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen) and other experts brought up all their ambiguities and questions ... and the Iranian side gave the necessary information and answers to remove the ambiguities.”

The IAEA says answers to the questions would help it judge whether Iran’s activity is wholly peaceful or not.

Among questions yet to be addressed are those concerning possible experiments linking uranium processing and missile warhead designs.

The United States says the Iran-IAEA deal failed to address the core U.N. demand that Tehran suspend work that could be used for making bombs. Washington is pushing for tougher U.N. sanctions to step up pressure on the Middle East country.

Iran says its programme is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more of its oil and gas.