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Alarmed West dismisses Iran nuclear "charm offensive"

Sep 14, 2011, 6:27 a.m.

Last week, its chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili sent a letter to European Union Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressing readiness to resume stalled talks with the powers.

But Jalili also made clear Iran would not back down over its nuclear "rights" -- language that usually refers to uranium enrichment, among other atomic fuel cycle activities.

Davies said the six powers were discussing how to respond to Iran's letter to Ashton, who is handling diplomatic contacts with Tehran on behalf of the six capitals, and he suggested they may decide to engage with the Islamic Republic as a result.

But he said the Iranian letter did not contain any new commitments by Iran to address international suspicions.

"I don't see from the standpoint of the work that is going on here anything new by way of an Iranian commitment to fully address the concerns that the international community has," Davies told reporters on the sidelines of the IAEA meeting.

Iran has often said it is willing to resume talks. But its insistence that other countries recognize its right to enrich uranium is a major stumbling block, particularly for Western diplomats who see it as an unacceptable precondition.

Since negotiations between the powers and Iran foundered in January, Russia has advocated a phased plan in which Tehran would address concerns that it may be seeking nuclear weapons, and be rewarded with an easing of sanctions.

"We note Iran's recent claim that it is starting a new era of cooperation," Davies told the 35-nation IAEA board. "We have heard this claim before, but it has yet to be fulfilled."

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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