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Iran seeks reopening of nuclear talks

The country's leading official on the issue says it has updated its proposals for talks on its atomic program, a move that could help Iran avoid new sanctions from world powers.

September 02, 2009|Borzou Daragahi

BEIRUT — Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Tuesday that the country was prepared to resume talks with world powers over its contentious nuclear technology program and that it had prepared a package of proposals for discussions.

Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and its point person on the nuclear issue, did not disclose details of the package but said that it would be an updated version of one submitted last year. That package was criticized by Western countries for failing to address key points of disagreement.

Still, Jalili's comments were the most substantive official remarks on the nuclear issue since the contentious June 12 election and could give the Obama administration, which has offered to have direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program, an opportunity to try to engage Tehran before resorting to a fresh round of sanctions.

"The Islamic Republic elections were held in Iran with significant glory and grandeur," Jalili said in statement broadcast on state television. "Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran, backed with strong republicanism, proper authority and a logic that is based on the beliefs of the republic, is ready to offer its proposal package."

The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Iran stop producing enriched uranium, which can be used to produce electricity or, if highly refined, serve as fissile material for a nuclear bomb. International nuclear inspectors also want Iran to clear up allegations about past experiments allegedly related to weapons production before giving Tehran a clean bill on its program.

Representatives of the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China are to meet today in Frankfurt, Germany, to consider increasing the pressure on Iran. The West is keen on ratcheting up economic sanctions on Iran's energy sector, a move strenuously opposed by Russia and China, say diplomats in Vienna, where the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency is based.

Israeli officials have threatened to launch military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities if sanctions and diplomacy fail to persuade the government to scale back its ambitions. German and French leaders vowed Monday in Berlin to tighten sanctions if Iran didn't address international concerns about its nuclear program.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Tuesday accused France and Germany of falling under the sway of Israel.

"The remarks of the German and French officials show how they have been affected by the hostile attitudes of the Zionist statesmen," Hassan Qashqavi said, the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency reported. "Their remarks are against the interests and beliefs of the progressive people of Germany and France."

He also dismissed sanctions as a "worthless and ineffectual tool" that "will not have any effect on Iran's lawful pursuit" of what he termed peaceful nuclear technology.

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daragahi@latimes.com

Special correspondent Julia Damianova in Vienna contributed to this report.

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