- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

VIENNA, Austria A new Iranian offer to meet with the world powers is unusually short on preconditions and suggests Tehran may be ready to touch on some nuclear issues that previously were taboo, according to a copy of a confidential letter from a senior Iranian official.

Shared with the Associated Press, the letter is short on details of what the Islamic Republic is ready to discuss with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

But it differs from previous negotiating offers by avoiding demands the six powers are bound to reject out of hand. And it says Iran is “ready to cooperate in … nonproliferation and peaceful nuclear cooperation.”

That’s a possible nod to six-power demands that the Islamic Republic address world concerns over its nuclear program and suspicions that it could be used to make weapons - something Tehran has refused to do in earlier meetings.

Compared with Iran’s previous offer, the letter, by chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, is notable in its moderate tone.

Western diplomats, however, characterized it Tuesday as part of Iran’s new “charm offensive” - an effort to derail plans to refer Tehran anew to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear defiance.

Iran already is under four sets of Security Council sanctions for refusing to freeze uranium enrichment. Tehran says it needs the program to make reactor fuel but the council fears it could be re-engineered to produce fissile warhead material - despite Iranian insistence it has no such plans.

The Islamic Republic also has stonewalled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) efforts to probe intelligence that it might be secretly experimenting with a nuclear-weapons program.

In its latest Iran report earlier this month, the IAEA for the first time said it is “increasingly concerned” about credible “extensive and comprehensive” intelligence suggesting that Iran continues its secret weapons work.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said Monday that he plans to share some of that intelligence with his agency’s 35-nation board, and diplomats say he will use his next report in November to detail his information on the allegations, including Iran’s suspected work on a nuclear warhead.

That report, in turn, could serve as a springboard for renewed IAEA referral to the Security Council, which first got involved in Iran’s nuclear file in 2006 after the Vienna-based agency reported Tehran for resuming uranium enrichment.


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