TOKYO - Iran is ready for immediate talks with world powers over a nuclear fuel swap deal, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview published in Japan on Friday.
Iran is "ready to resume in late August or in early September" talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany over an exchange of enriched uranium, Ahmadinejad told the Yomiuri Shimbun.
Ahmadinejad hinted Iran could stop its controversial programme of uranium enrichment if a deal were struck to ensure the supply of nuclear fuel to Tehran.
"We promise to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent if fuel supply is ensured," he said in the exclusive interview in Tehran, published in Japanese.
"We have the right to enrich uranium. Iran has never provoked a war nor craved for nuclear bombs," he added.
Ahmadinejad's comments follow those he made earlier this month urging the United States to join talks on a fuel swap deal.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that any talks with arch-foe the United States would take place only if Washington drops "sanctions and threats" against Tehran.
Asked about the relations with the United States, Ahmadinejad told the Yomiuri Shimbun: "Iranian people support dialogue. Dialogue should be done with respect and fairness.
"Unfortunately Western countries always hold out threats, trying to keep advantage in negotiations. This is not dialogue. The purpose of dialogue is understanding, not threatening."
Iran says it needs 20 percent enriched uranium to power a research reactor in Tehran.
Western and European nations led by Washington strongly oppose Tehran's move to enrich uranium to this level, as they suspect the enrichment programme masks a weapons drive.
Under a deal proposed in May known as the Tehran Declaration, Iran would ship some low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for 20 percent high-enriched uranium to be supplied at a later date for a Tehran research reactor.
The Tehran Declaration was Iran's counter-proposal to an earlier plan drafted by the IAEA for a fuel swap deal.
After that plan hit deadlock, Ahmadinejad ordered atomic chiefs to produce 20 percent enriched uranium inside the country, in defiance of world powers which want Tehran to stop the sensitive process.
The UN Security Council groups Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.