Iran vows new initiatives in talks with West

Iran's top nuclear negotiator says his country will offer new initiatives in weekend talks with world powers over Tehran's controversial nuclear program, Iranian state media reported Thursday.

The talks Saturday in Istanbul between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council nations plus Germany are the first direct negotiations on Tehran's nuclear program after talks collapsed more than 14 months ago.

"Iranian representatives will attend the talks with new initiatives," Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili was quoted as saying by state TV and the official Irna news agency. "We are ready to hold successful and progressive talks on cooperation."

He added he hoped the West would "enter the talks with constructive attitude." He did not elaborate on the new initiatives.

For Iran, uranium enrichment has been a proud symbol of its scientific advances and technological self-sufficiency. The West, however, suspects Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon program.

Despite sets of sanctions by the U.N Security Council and the West, Iran has refused to close down its uranium enrichment labs. The U.S. and others worry the higher-enriched uranium could be turned into warheads in a matter of months.

In March, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Iran's leader to make a nuclear deal with the West in the talks after participating in a nuclear-security summit in South Korea.

On Sunday, Iran signaled it could scale back uranium enrichment but would not abandon the ability to make nuclear fuel.

Iran's nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi said Tehran could eventually stop its production of the 20 percent enriched uranium needed for a research reactor, used for medical research and treatments. He said Iran would continue enriching uranium to lower levels of about 3.5 percent for power generation.

Earlier this week the head of the Iranian parliament's influential foreign policy committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said Tehran's negotiators are open to proposals but described the overall issue of uranium enrichment as "nonnegotiable."


Associated Press writer Susan Fraser contributed to this report.