This offer was in the form of a letter from chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili of Iran responding to an earlier proposal from EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton for talks in Vienna from November 15 to November 18.
Nuclear talks have been deadlocked since October 2009 when the two sides met in Geneva,
between Iran and the so-called P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia, Germany and the United States —
A European diplomat on condition of anonymity told,“Iran has proposed to the six (powers) to meet in Istanbul on November 23 or December 5,”
The office of Ashton, who has been spearheading the drive for a new round of negotiations, confirmed receipt of the letter but refused to go into its contents or the dates, adding that world powers would respond soon.
“We will now discuss the details and proposals with our… partners and respond to Doctor Jalili in the coming days,” a spokeswoman said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the United States hoped negotiations would begin “as early as the end of the month.”
“I would expect there would be consultations within the P5+1 in the next day or two,” Crowley said, adding that Ashton and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would speak on the phone either Tuesday or Wednesday.
A switch of venue to Istanbul would likely irritate the United States, which views Turkey with mistrust since it set up a nuclear-swap deal with Tehran earlier this year when Washington was against the move and shoring up tougher sanctions.
Crowley suggested there could be multiple meetings and multiple venues.
he said;“If we are successful in getting the process going, not just one meeting but a series of meetings and a serious engagement on the nuclear issue and other issues, we can envision that there would be many potential locations for this series of meetings.”
World powers led by Washington want Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment activity, which is at the centre of fears that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Low-enriched uranium of up to 20 per cent is used as fuel to power nuclear reactors, but high-enriched uranium can make the fissile core of an atom bomb.
The fissile uranium used in nuclear warheads is normally refined to 85-90 per cent by a process called isotope separation, but 20 per cent enrichment is considered enough to make a crude weapon.
The New York Times reported last month that the Obama administration and its European allies were preparing a new, more onerous offer for Iran than the one rejected by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last year.
The offer would require Iran to send more than 4,400 pounds of low-enriched uranium out of the country, an increase of more than two-thirds from an earlier deal struck in Vienna.
World powers responded on June 9 by backing new UN sanctions against Iran.
Sanctions notably ban investments in oil, gas and petrochemicals while also targeting banks, insurance, financial transactions and shipping — all of which Tehran has brushed off as having no impact.
Iran, which frames the talks for its home audience as about global nuclear disarmament, said categorically on Tuesday that it would not discuss the fuel swap during the upcoming negotiations.
“Under no condition will we discuss the issue of fuel swap in our meeting with the 5+1 group,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered Iran’s atomic body in February to start refining uranium to 20 per cent after an original version of the nuclear fuel swap deal drafted by the UN atomic watchdog fell through.