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Tehran 'Ready' For Talks On Nuclear Program

Iran 's chief nuclear negotiator Said Jalili
Iran has told world powers it is ready to resume stalled nuclear talks at the "earliest" opportunity.

Chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili made the offer in a letter to European Union chief diplomat Catherine Ashton, who represents the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia in the talks.

The letter, dated February 14, was vague on whether Tehran was ready to address concerns over its nuclear program.

Ashton in October said in a letter that the powers could meet with Iran if it was ready to tackle those concerns.

On February 15, Iran announced advances in its nuclear program despite increased Western and UN sanctions. Western powers suspect that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb -- a charge Iran denies.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the message was “ambiguous,” but constituted a positive sign.

Iranian Nuke 'Not Likely'

In related news, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has told a Congressional committee that it is "technically feasible" that Iran could produce a nuclear weapon in one or two years, "but practically not likely."

During the hearing on February 16, Clapper also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he doesn't believe Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei "wants a nuclear weapon at any price" and would decide based on "a cost-benefit analysis."

Testifying alongside Clapper, U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency chief Ronald Burgess said Iran is "unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict," but could respond to a strike against its nuclear program by closing the Strait of Hormuz and launch missiles at regional U.S. forces and allies.

Both men also said they do not believe Israel has decided to strike Iran.

Earlier on February 16, Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak also downplayed Iran's claims of nuclear advances, dismissing them as exaggerations.

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