Iran Welcomes Nuclear Talks Amid Threats

One day after the US asked Russia to convey a warning to Iran over its nuclear program, Tehran has 'welcomed' the renewed dialogue.

Gabe Kahn.,

Iran's IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh smiles
Iran's IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh smiles

Iran on Wednesday welcomed renewed nuclear talks with major powers saying the two sides should set "the date and venue" of the talks.

"In a letter to (EU foreign policy chief) Catherine Ashton, Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili welcomed the political will of 5+1 countries to return to the talks. He also said the two sides had to stay in contact to set a date and venue for future talks," IRNA reported.

Tehran's statement came on the same day reports surfaced that the United States had asked Russia to convey to Iran that the upcoming talks would be its "last chance" to avoid a nuclear strike on its nuclear program.

At the same time, Iranian General Mohammad Hossein Dadras told Iran's Fars News Agency that Tehran was unconcerned about Washington's decision to boost its striking power should Iran's naval forces be targeted in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

"At present, the military forces of the arrogant powers are present in the region, but no one, including them, dares to approach the Iranian waters which are part of the country's borders," Dadras said.

His remarks come as tensions remain high over Iran's nuclear program and speculation runs rampant about a potential military strike by Israel or the United States.

Israel, the United States, its Western allies, and Gulf Arab nations charge that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.

The International Atomic Energy Association has issued two reports in recent months indicating Iran has sought – and continues to seek – nuclear technology that has solely military applications.

It has also raised pointed questions about Iran's push to enrich its uranium stockpiles to 20% purity, a key jumping off point should Iran make a dash to enrich its uranium to the 93% needed for nuclear weapons.

Iran says it is enriching uranium to 20% in order to research medical isotopes, but proliferation experts note that Tehran is enriching far more uranium than is necessary for that purpose and does not have a sufficiently advanced medical research sector to support the claim.