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EU: Iran Nuclear Curbs Must Come Before Sanctions Relief

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, shown last month, was set on Monday to discuss details of a multilateral nuclear accord with a senior Iranian diplomat and other officials (Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images). EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, shown last month, was set on Monday to discuss details of a multilateral nuclear accord with a senior Iranian diplomat and other officials (Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images).

The European Union on Monday said Iran must curb its disputed atomic activities before it can receive sanctions relief under a November deal, Reuters reports.

Top diplomats from the 28-nation bloc said they are "committed to [the suspension of] EU sanctions as set out in the (agreement) immediately after the [International Atomic Energy Agency] has verified the implementation of the nuclear-related measures by Iran."

Iran has been at odds with other countries about how to time steps promised under last month's accord, which calls for Tehran to restrict elements of its nuclear program in exchange for limitations on global financial penalties, according to Reuters. Washington and its allies hope the half-year agreement reached in November will lead to longer-term restrictions on Iranian activities widely suspected to be geared toward development of a nuclear-arms capability.

Prior to Monday's gathering of foreign ministers, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Iranian specialists would meet again in the near future with counterparts from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. Last week, Iran withdrew from an earlier round of talks aimed at hashing out specifics on compliance with the interim accord.

Ashton, who has communicated with Tehran on behalf of the "P-5+1" nations, was expected to confer on the November agreement with a group including Abbas Araqchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister. The senior Iranian official traveled to Brussels on Monday for the meeting.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday said that new U.S. penalties prompted his nation pulled out of last week's meeting, the Associated Press reported.

Zarif added, though, that Tehran intends to keep participating in atomic dialogue with the six major powers.

"We will show proper, calculated, purposeful and smart reaction toward any improper and unconstructive action," Zarif said in a statement published on Facebook.

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