Iran Proposes Nuclear Talks, Delays Missile Test
Photo: AP - Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili speaks to the media after two-day talks between Iran and world powers on Iran's nuclear program at the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. (File - Jan. 22, 2011)-

Iran has proposed a new round of talks on its controversial nuclear program while apparently delaying long-range missiles tests that it had said would take place Saturday.

The state-run IRNA news agency says nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has invited the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (known as the P5 + 1) to "come back to talks."  

The P5 + 1 last met with Iran in January. The meeting ended with no agreement.  At the time, Jalili said Tehran would maintain its right to nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment.

Western powers accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear technology to make atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

Earlier Saturday, the semi-official Mehr news agency said Iran's ambassador to Germany, Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, would propose the talks in a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.  He did not say how or when the letter would be sent.

Meanwhile, Reuters news quotes an EU spokesman as saying the group remains open to "meaningful discussions" that do not include "preconditions from the Iranian side."

The developments have come at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and some Western powers.

On Friday, Iran said it would fire long-range missiles on Saturday as part of military exercises that are underway in the Persian Gulf.  However, the Fars news agency on Saturday quoted a deputy navy commander ((Admiral Seyed Mohmoud Moussavi)) as saying the military would test-fire a mid-range missile "during the final days" of the military exercise.

Earlier in the week, Iran drew criticism after threatening to block oil shipments through the strategic Strait of Hormuz if Western powers imposed sanctions targeting its oil exports.

Tehran made the threat after EU ministers said that a decision on further economic sanctions on Iran for its controversial nuclear program would be made in coming weeks. The ministers said the sanctions could include a boycott of Iranian oil.

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