A top Iranian nuclear official is denying that he said Tehran is ready to hold talks with Western nations on its nuclear program "without preconditions."

Iranian state media quote the country's envoy to the U.N. nuclear agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as saying he had not given any interviews or made any comments on the issue.

State media earlier quoted Soltanieh as saying "negotiations without preconditions is Iran's main stance on the nuclear issue."

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 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. 

U.S. officials say 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.