US officials urge Iran to return to nuclear talks

VIENNA (AP) — U.S. officials urged Iran on Tuesday to return to negotiations over its nuclear program.

Talks reached a stalemate months ago, after Iran tried to re-negotiate an agreement for it to ship out most of its low enriched uranium to be turned into fuel for a research reactor.

Iran says it's enriching to produce energy, but the U.S. and other countries fear the country could use the process to make weapons.

Washington is "always interested in re-engaging Iran" on the fuel swap but wants to make sure Iran is sincere, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said.

U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman, speaking to reporters alongside Chu, said it was important to focus on larger talks between Iran and the five U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, not just on the narrower talks on the proposed fuel swap.

"Much has happened since that time to alter the facts on the ground ... and so we believe it is very important that they should engage on the wider suite of issues" Poneman said.

Chu and Poneman spoke to reporters while attending an annual conference held by the International Atomic Energy Agency that has drawn delegates from countries around the world to discuss global nuclear issues.

At Monday's opening session, Iran's top representative at the meeting, Ali Akbar Salehi, called on Washington, France, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency — known collectively as the Vienna group — to resume the so-called fuel swap talks with Iran "without further delay."