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Ahmadinejad: Iran Is Ready For Nuclear Talks

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks to the press prior upon his arrival at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on Jan. 14.
Atta Kenare
AFP/Getty Images
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks to the press prior upon his arrival at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on Jan. 14.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that his country is ready to talk with the West about its nuclear programs.

"They have this excuse that Iran is dodging negotiations while it is not the case," he said. "Why should we run away from the negotiations?"

Ever since the United Nations released a report that said Iran had worked on and may be working on building a nuclear weapons, Iran has been pounded by international sanctions. The United States kicked them off and on Monday, the European Union joined, saying it would no longer buy oil from Iran begingin July 1.

The AFP reports:

"Ahmadinejad was implicitly responding to comments made by Western officials urging the Islamic republic to return to negotiations over its contested nuclear program.

"'The European Union stands together in sending that clear message to the government of Iran: that we wish to go back to negotiations, to invite them to pick up the issues which were left on the table in Istanbul a year ago,' EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Tuesday

"The last round of talks between Iran and the major powers consisting of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States was held in Turkey in January 2011, but the negotiations collapsed."

Still, The Telegraph reports, Ahmadinejad said that the oil embargo from Europe would not hurt Iran.

"Once our trade with the Europe was around 90 percent but now it has reached 10 percent and we are not seeking this 10 percent... experience has shown that Iranian nation will not be hurt," Ahmadinejad. "For the past 30 years the Americans have not been buying oil from us. Our central bank has no relations with you."

This news comes, a day after the Institute for Science and International Security released a report on Iran's nuclear ambition that took a decidedly more measured tone on Iran's capabilities.

"Iran is unlikely to decide to dash toward making nuclear weapons as long as its uranium enrichment capability remains as limited as it is today," the report said.

Reuters adds:

"The report, financed by a grant from the United States Institute of Peace, said Iran had not made a decision to build a nuclear bomb. The USIP is an independent, non-partisan center created by the U.S. Congress in 1984 that receives federal government funding.

"'Iran is unlikely to break out in 2012, in great part because it is deterred from doing so,' said the ISIS report, which has not yet been publicly released."

"The report turns down the temperature, saying that sanctions and the fear of a military strike by Israel on Iran's nuclear facilities have worked as a deterrent."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.