Ahmadinejad defiant but ready to talk about Iran’s nuclear intentions

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Iran is ready to revive talks with the world powers, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said, as Tehran faces tougher sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme.

But he insisted that those pressures will not force Iran to give up its demands, including to continue enriching uranium, that led to the collapse of dialogue last year.

The United States and its allies want Iran to halt making nuclear fuel, which they worry could eventually lead to weapons-grade material and the production of nuclear weapons.

Iran says its programme is for peaceful purposes – generating electricity and producing medical radioisotopes to treat cancer.

The 27-member European Union imposed an oil embargo against Iran on Monday, part of sanctions to pressure Tehran into resuming talks on the country’s nuclear program. It follows US action also aimed at limiting Iran’s ability to sell oil, which accounts for 80% of its foreign revenue.

No date is set for the possible resumption of talks between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany. Negotiations ended in stalemate in January 2011, and Iran later rejected a plan to send its stockpile of low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for reactor-ready fuel rods.

Iran had previously indicated that it is ready for a new round of talks. Ahmadinejad is the highest-ranking official to make the offer.

He accused the West of trying to scuttle negotiations as a way to further squeeze Iran. He added: “It is you who come up with excuses each time and issue resolutions on the verge of talks so that negotiations collapse.”