Tehran, which has had a number of UN sanctions imposed against it since 2006, insists it wants atomic energy only for a growing population whose fossil fuels will eventually run out.

The UN sanctions include a clause calling for "vigilance" by member states over the movement in their territories of people directly associated with or supporting Iran's nuclear activities.

Conditional offer

Washington has been waiting for Europe to take such measures on Iran for months and the issue was a key one on a recent European tour by George Bush, the US president.

The 27 EU member states have been working on the detail since May but the measures were delayed until after a trip to Iran earlier this month by Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief.

Solana visited Tehran on June 14 to present a co-operation offer to Iran on behalf of the six major countries involved in the dossier - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US.

The proposal, which offers Iran technological incentives in exchange for it suspending the sensitive process of uranium enrichment, has been made public, as has a letter from the six world powers dealing with the nuclear crisis.

That offer, a key part of the international community's carrot-and-stick approach to the issue, was a slightly different version of a package put forward, but rejected, in June 2006.

Solana said on Friday that he had still received no response from the Iranian side on the offer, which is conditional on Tehran suspending its uranium enrichment activities.

Saeed Jalili, a key Iranian nuclear negotiator, said the idea of Iran suspending enrichment, which was repeatedly rejected by the government, was not part of the discussions with Solana.

However, he said Sunday that Iran was examining a "timetable" presented by world powers for starting talks on the latest package.

While the opening of full negotiations on co-operation is conditional upon Iran's suspension of all enrichment activities, Solana proposed a period of preliminary talks during which Tehran would agree merely not to set up any new centrifuges and the national powers agree not to increase their existing sanctions.