Iran says it's ready to resume nuclear talks

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator said in a letter that the country welcomes resuming negotiations on its nuclear program.

The letter from chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said Iran wants to resume the talks with the permanent U.N. Security Council nations — the United States, England, France, Russia and China — plus Germany, according to the semi-official FARS News Agency.

The letter was sent just before Iran announced it had advanced its nuclear program, which included the production of homegrown nuclear fuel rods and an underground uranium enrichment site getting online.

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The United State passed economic sanctions against Iran in December, and the European Union passed an oil embargo last month, both in an attempt to get Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The United States and allies say Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons, while Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The Iranian letter was sent as a response to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who had asked for another round of talks with the six countries in October

President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have said that the no options are off the table to prevent a nuclear Iran, including military options, and one recent media report said Panetta believed it was likely Israel would attack Iran in the spring.

Iran indicated it would cut off its oil exports to European countries in response to the oil embargo that’s set to take effect in July.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the new announcements from Iran were “provocative acts, defiant acts” that were designed to hide the fact that the economic sanctions are having an impact.

“It is not unusual for Iran to try to distract attention from those uncomfortable facts and from its overall isolation by some burst of rhetoric or making some announcement,” Carney said.