Iran says nuclear talks with West on for Feb. 26

TEHRAN, Iran: Iran has agreed to hold talks with six world powers in Kazakhstan on Feb. 26 over its nuclear program, Iranian state TV said Tuesday.

The TV says the timing of the talks was confirmed following a phone conversation Tuesday between the offices of Saeed Jalili, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, and EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

Earlier, it was thought the talks would take place Feb. 25. Ashton’s office represents the six powers — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany.

The talks have stalled since May.

The West demands Tehran stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, which is close to the level used to arm nuclear warheads.

Iran insists it is enriching only to make reactor fuel and for scientific and medical programs, and not for a nuclear weapon.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the agreement but harshly criticized Iran. In a statement Tuesday, he said Britain wants to find a diplomatic solution, “but the need to make progress is increasingly urgent. Iran continues to enrich uranium in contravention of U.N. Security Council resolutions and on a scale that has no plausible civilian explanation.”

Hague said world powers have made Iran “an updated and credible offer,” adding, “The onus is on Iran to respond seriously and turn its declared willingness to negotiate into concrete action.”