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Tehran, U.N. Powers Split Over Nuclear Deal's Uranium Limits

Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility, shown in 2007. Tehran differed with global interlocutors over its uranium-processing rights under the November interim nuclear agreement. Iran's Natanz uranium-enrichment facility, shown in 2007. Tehran differed with global interlocutors over its uranium-processing rights under the November interim nuclear agreement. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

Iran is at odds with six other countries over uranium-enrichment limits in a November nuclear deal that still has not taken effect, the Associated Press reports.

The Middle Eastern nation contends that the six-month agreement permits it to produce 20 percent-enriched uranium -- a material suited for potential fast conversion into nuclear-bomb fuel -- if it relies exclusively on experimental refinement technology at its Natanz plant, two unnamed officials told AP.

The five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations plus Germany were resisting Tehran's push to label such refinement as a kind of scientific development permitted under the agreement, the insiders said. Tehran says it would rapidly eliminate the sensitive material once it is generated.

The dispute was one anticipated focus of a Thursday meeting in which Iranian negotiators and their "P-5+1" counterparts would try to resolve disagreements over the pact, paving the way for bringing the terms into force. The United States and its allies hope the deal will lead to longer-term restrictions on Iranian atomic activities that could lead to a nuclear-arms capability if left unchecked. Tehran has faced wide skepticism in response to its longtime insistence that its atomic ambitions are peaceful.

Participants in the talks were also expected to address a dispute over Iran's installation of additional experimental enrichment centrifuges following the accord's completion, AP reported. Washington and its partners say the additional deployments were in breach of Iran's pledge to refrain from boosting its quantity of the machines after the deal became final.

Meanwhile, Iran's supreme religious leader on Thursday said the United States had demonstrated continued hostility toward Tehran through its actions in the nuclear dialogue, Reuters reported.

"We had announced previously that on certain issues, if we feel it is expedient, we would negotiate with the Satan (the United States) to deter its evil," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in comments reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency. "The nuclear talks showed the enmity of America against Iran, Iranians, Islam and Muslims."

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