- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MOSCOW (AP) — Iran is ready to resume negotiations on its nuclear program, and a Russian proposal will aid the process, Iran‘s foreign minister said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi spoke at a news conference in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, but neither side gave new details about the Russian proposal.

Six nations — the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany — have been pushing Iran to meet U.N. Security Council demands to stop enriching uranium amid fears Iran aims to develop nuclear weapons. The last round of the “sextet” talks was in January.

The Russian proposal is for a “step-by-step” approach under which the international community would make limited concessions to Iran for each step it makes in disclosing its nuclear intentions. The United States has worked with Russia on the plan, which Russian Security Council head Nuikolai Patrushev discussed in Iran this week with Tehran’s top nuclear negotiator.

“I agree that talks should be begun on the Iranian nuclear question,” Mr. Salehi said, but “we will not accept any kind of pressure.”

On the Russian proposal, “we consider that there are good elements in this proposal. It puts obligations on all sides,” Mr. Salehi said.

Mr. Lavrov declined to speculate on when new steps might be taken under the plan.

Tehran denies accusations that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons, insisting its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and producing isotopes to treat medical patients.

But Western concerns have grown because Iran‘s uranium enrichment program also could make fissile warhead material and it refuses to cooperate with U.N. investigations of the possible military dimensions of its nuclear programs.

The Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran is not a weapons-proliferation concern because of international safeguards on its spent fuel. But Iran has celebrated the plant as a major technological achievement and a sign of its determination to master all aspects of nuclear technology.

However, the plant’s entry into service has been delayed repeatedly.

Mr. Lavrov said Wednesday the “last preparatory steps” are being discussed and the plant could go on line soon.

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