TEHRAN, Iran, (AP) – Iran has proposed that a new round of international talks on its nuclear program be held in Turkey, an ally that also has close ties to the West and has sought to mediate in the standoff.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Sunday that Iran has informed its “friends in Turkey” that it is willing to hold the talks there. He told a news conference that Iran is “hopeful a time and agenda will be agreed upon soon.”
Tehran has said it would be ready to renew talks with the six nations — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — some time after Nov. 10. Negotiations foundered a year ago.
The six powers suspect Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability under the cover of a civil energy program. Iran denies that, saying it only has peaceful aims, such as power generation.
The six nations want Iran to take steps to reassure the international community that it has no plans to build the bomb. Their key demand is for Iran to stop enriching uranium, which can be used to make fuel for power plants as well as material for warheads.
In the last round of negotiations, Iran balked at a U.N.-drafted proposal to ship most of its stockpile of enriched uranium abroad for further processing and to be returned in the form of fuel rods for a Tehran research reactor that makes isotopes used in cancer treatment. Fuel rods cannot be used to make weapons material.
Iran rejected that deal but accepted a similar proposal from allies Brazil and Turkey. The other six nations, however, said that plan fell short of their demands.
The U.N. Security Council imposed a fourth round of tough sanctions against Iran in June over its refusal to halt enrichment.
Mottaki also said Iran was not taking a U.S. senator’s remarks on a military strike seriously.
Lindsey Graham, a leading senator on defense issues, said Saturday that any military strike on Iran to stop its nuclear program must also strive to take out Iran’s military capability.
The Obama administration, through top military officials, has made it clear that all options are on the table, though it says it prefers a diplomatic solution.
“My view of military force would be not to just neutralize their nuclear program, which are probably dispersed and hardened, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard.
“In other words, neuter that regime,” Graham said at an international security forum in Canada.
Mottaki said he believed Graham was only joking.
“Don’t take the American senator’s remarks very serious,” the foreign minister said. “The situation in the U.S. after the election is boiling” and American foreign policy is in a confused stage, he said.