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Iran Says Ready for September Talks if Conditions Met


Iran's nuclear negotiator says his government is willing to start talks with six world powers on its nuclear program beginning September 1st if they meet several conditions.

Iranian state media said Tuesday Saeed Jalili made the offer in a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is representing the six powers. He was replying to an offer made by Ashton in early June to resume talks on the Iranian nuclear program.

In his letter, Jalili says the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China must clarify whether the goal of renewed talks is cooperation or hostility with Iran.

He also says the six powers must make clear whether they support the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and clarify their position on Israel's purported nuclear arsenal.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington is willing to meet with Iran if it is "serious" about talking to the six powers. He did not elaborate.

Western nations suspect Iran is trying to build atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared a two-month freeze in nuclear talks with the six powers last week to protest their support for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Tehran. The U.N. Security Council approved the latest sanctions on June 9.

U.S. president Barack Obama also signed a law last week imposing the toughest ever U.S. sanctions on Iran. The law imposes penalties on companies that sell Iran refined petroleum products like gasoline and jet fuel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the move Tuesday in a meeting with Mr. Obama at the White House, saying the unilateral U.S. sanctions have "teeth." He urged other nations to follow Mr. Obama's example by imposing tougher sanctions on Iran's energy sector.

Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran to be the greatest threat to its existence due to repeated calls by Iranian leaders for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Iran says Israel's purported nuclear arsenal is the main obstacle to a nuclear-free Middle East. Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing nuclear weapons.

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

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