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Iran wants talks, under spectre of possible war

Update: February, 20/2012 - 11:59

TEHRAN – Iran is to host a high-level team from the UN nuclear watchdog on Monday as part of efforts to defuse dire international tensions over its atomic activities through dialogue.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said his country was keen to quickly resume mooted talks with world powers, once a place and date were agreed.

The last talks collapsed in Istanbul in January 2011, but Tehran has responded positively to an EU offer to look at reviving them.

"We are looking for a mechanism for a solution for the nuclear issue in a way that it is win-win for both sides," Salehi said.

But he added that Iran remained prepared for a "worst-case scenario".

Israeli calculations will take into account a Wednesday announcement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iranian scientists are boosting uranium enrichment by adding 3,000 more centrifuges to a facility at Natanz.

Iran also appeared to be about to install thousands of new centrifuges in another, heavily fortified enrichment facility near Qom, a diplomat accredited to the UN nuclear watchdog told the BBC.

Iran says the enrichment is part of a purely peaceful civilian nuclear programme.

Western nations and Israel, though, fear it is part of a drive to develop the ability to make atomic weapons.

A November report by the UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency strongly suggested Iran's programme included nuclear weapons research.

The IAEA delegation due in Tehran on Monday is to hold two days of talks with officials after a previous visit at the end of January yielded no breakthrough.

"Importantly we hope for some concrete results from this trip... This is of course a very complex issue that may take a while," IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts told reporters in Vienna before leaving for Iran.-- AFP

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