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Australia to Impose Nuclear Sanctions on Iran

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith delivers his speech during the opening of the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction in Jakarta (File Photo - 15 Jul 2010)

Australia says it will impose new sanctions on Iran, joining the United States, Canada, European Union, and United Nations.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Thursday that the sanctions, aimed at persuading Iran to halt its nuclear program, will affect more than 110 businesses and individuals.

The sanctions include a trade ban on all arms and items that could be used for nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons development.

Smith called Iran's nuclear program "one of the most serious security challenges facing the international community."

Wednesday, the United States said it is ready to take part in new talks with Iran about its nuclear intentions.

Tehran has sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency proposing to resume talks on a deal that would help provide nuclear fuel for Tehran's research reactor.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday that Washington hopes to meet with Iranian officials to discuss both the reactor and "broader issues" related to Tehran's nuclear program.

The nations and groups putting sanctions on Iran accuse Tehran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday dismissed the latest sanctions as ineffective, telling the semi-official Fars news agency that sanctions will "not have an impact on the will of a great nation."

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