Iran says it's ready for new nuclear talks

WASHINGTON - Iran says it is ready to resume talks with world powers over its disputed nuclear program.

The top Iranian nuclear negotiator says Tehran is committed to a dialogue on its uranium enrichment program that welcomes its right to peaceful nuclear energy production.

But the letter from Saeed Jalili in response to a letter from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton offers no new concessions. It is likely to be viewed skeptically in Western capitals, wary of delaying tactics from Tehran while they implement tough sanctions on the Iranian economy.

The one-page, four-paragraph letter was dated Tuesday. An English translation was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Iran claimed Wednesday it has achieved two major advances in its program to master production of nuclear fuel.

Iran defiant with oil threats, nuke advances
Iran claims new, advanced nuclear centrifuges

In a further show of resistance to international pressure, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Tajik said six European diplomats were summoned Wednesday and told that Iran has no problem replacing customers - an implied threat that Tehran would carry out plans to cut European Union countries off immediately to preempt sanctions set to go into effect in July.

Tajik's comments reversed earlier reports that Tehran already was taking steps to halt sales to six countries.

Iranian TV reported that crude oil exports to six European nations - Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France and the Netherlands - were cut earlier in the day. A semi-official news agency later reported that exports were cut just to France and Netherlands with the four other countries receiving an ultimatum.

The EU ban on oil imports is to go into effect in July. Iranian officials say their country's earlier cutoff will hit European nations before they can line up new suppliers, and that Tehran has already lined up buyers for the 18 percent share of its oil that goes to Europe.

Iran's tough tone comes as tensions have mounted dramatically with Israel and the United States over its nuclear program, which Washington and its allies say is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charge, saying its program is intended solely for research and generating electricity. Israel has increasingly warned of the possibility of a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, and it has accused Iran of being behind attempted attacks on Israeli diplomats in India, Georgia and elsewhere. Iran denies any role in the attacks, which have resembled recent bombing-assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists that Tehran has blamed on Israel.