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Iran Ready to Hold Nuclear Talks with Western States 'Without Preconditions'

By VOA News

A top Iranian nuclear official says Tehran is ready to hold talks with Western nations on its disputed nuclear program "without preconditions."

Iranian state media quoted Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as saying "negotiations without preconditions is Iran's main stance on the nuclear issue."

Update: Iran Official Denies He Made Nuclear Talks Statement
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- A senior Iranian official has denied he had made any statement saying Tehran was ready for talks with the West on its disputed nuclear program, state television reported.

View of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in Southern Iran
Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes

Iranian officials have made similar statements in the past about possible talks on Tehran's nuclear activities, while vowing not to back down in its dispute with the West.

The Development and Proliferation of
Nuclear Weapons

Today eight countries are possessing nuclear weapons. The five nuclear weapons states United States, Russia (former Soviet Union), United Kingdom, France and China, are the only countries allowed to have nuclear weapons according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) from 1970. All members of the United Nations except Israel, India and Pakistan have signed the NPT.

The United States and other Western nations have accused Iran of working to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran says the purpose of its atomic program is to produce electricity.

Washington has given Iran until the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in September to take up an offer from six Western nations to discuss trade benefits if it freezes uranium enrichment. Enriched uranium is needed to make nuclear weapons.

The U.S. says Iran could face harsher international sanctions if it refuses to hold talks.

Iran said earlier this month that it asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to propose a ban on armed attacks against nuclear facilities.

It says the issue of protecting nuclear installations is of urgent concern for all countries.

Israel, which sees Iran's atomic program as a growing threat, has not ruled out military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities.

The IAEA passed a resolution in 1990 banning strikes on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes, but Iran says it is important to have a fresh proposal on the issue.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 08/18/09 ... --

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