Iran ruled out a total suspension of uranium enrichment Wednesday as a second round of talks with European negotiators failed to produce an agreement on incentives aimed at getting the Tehran regime to stop.
"Total suspension will not be accepted under any circumstances," said Sirus Naseri, a member of the Iranian delegation that met in Vienna with envoys from Britain, France and Germany.
But Naseri said Iran was still trying to work out a compromise with the Europeans, who have been working to persuade Iran to agree to suspend enrichment and avoid possible U.N. sanctions.
"We're negotiating," he said. "We're trying to come to an agreement. The next meeting will be soon."
The European diplomats involved in Wednesday's talks declined to comment.
Britain, France and Germany have offered Iran a trade deal and peaceful nuclear technology — including a light-water research reactor — in return for assurances that the country will stop uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for both nuclear energy and atomic weaponry.
Diplomats called the package a "last chance" offer to Iran ahead of a key Nov. 25 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which could result in Tehran's defiance being reported to the U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to impose punishing sanctions.
The Vienna-based IAEA is not directly involved in the offer, but agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said he welcomes any attempt to negotiate an end to the standoff. Envoys from the three European nations were meeting privately with an Iranian delegation at the French mission to international organizations in Vienna.
Iran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful and geared solely toward generating electricity. The United States, pointing to Iran's vast oil reserves, contends it is running a covert nuclear weapons program.
Heightening the U.S. concerns, Iran has resumed testing, assembling and making centrifuges used to enrich uranium.