Ahmadinejad Says Iran Preparing New Nuclear Proposal

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"The nuclear issue of ours is a special issue."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his government is preparing to offer the U.S. and European nations an updated version of a one-year-old proposal for talks about its nuclear program.

"We are reconsidering our proposed package," Ahmadinejad said today in an interview on ABC television's This Week program. He said Iran was "adding new issues" and would make the proposal public "as soon as possible."

The U.S. and its allies, who didn't agree to the earlier proposal, say Iran's uranium enrichment program is a cover for the development of an atomic weapon. Iran, the second-largest oil producer in Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, says its plan is to generate electricity.

Iran, in a May 13, 2008, letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, offered to engage in "just negotiations without preconditions" with the aim of a "comprehensive agreement" on issues including Iran's nuclear program, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and collaboration to combat terrorism, drugs, illegal immigration and crime.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is working on setting up a new round of talks with Iran. President Barack Obama has said the U.S. would participate and, according to European diplomats, won't impose additional sanctions on Iran if it freezes nuclear development work.

Any talks should have a "clear-cut framework," Ahmadinejad said on ABC. "The nuclear issue of ours is a special issue.

"We think that the nuclear issue needs to be resolved in the context of the agency and regulations," he said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog. "We are just utilizing our rights."

The international community has an opportunity to resolve Iran's nuclear issue after the shift in the U.S. stance to dialogue from confrontation, according to Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency's director-general.

"What I see is a new environment," ElBaradei said on April 21. "What we hear from Iran is also different."

The UN Security Council has passed three sets of sanctions against the Islamic Republic for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

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