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US gives Iran final warning on closing nuke plant

Iran must immediately close a large nuclear facility built in a mountain if it is to take what Barack Obama has called a "last chance" to resolve its escalating dispute with the West.

Other "near term" concessions which must be met in talks to avoid a potential military conflict, include the suspension of higher-level uranium enrichment, and the surrender by Tehran of existing stockpiles of the fuel, senior US officials said yesterday.

The demands were outlined as Iranian state TV announced that crucial negotiations over its disputed nuclear programme will begin in Istanbul on Friday, allaying fears that disagreements over the venue would derail the important and long-scheduled talks.

Diplomats will insist on Iran giving up the Fordow enrichment plant, which is just outside the Shia holy city of Qom.

The facility is buried in a mountain, apparently to protect against air strikes, and is at the centre of Israeli fears that the country's leadership is developing weapons that could mount a long-range strike across international borders.

A senior US official told 'The New York Times' that the White House has "no idea how the Iranians will react" to the demands, and "probably won't know after the first meeting".

But he said that more serious talks cannot proceed unless they are met. Another US source told said the country must also export its entire stockpile of uranium enriched to 20pc purity if they are to stave off potential military action. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent