The Iranian statement, which came the day after France accused Iran of pursuing a secret military nuclear programme, sketched out a three-stage process to end a standoff with the international community over Iran's nuclear programme.

   

Ratification of the Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which gives the UN nuclear watchdog greater powers to inspect suspected nuclear facilities, has been a key demand made of Tehran by Western nations.

   

Iran, which began implementing the protocol in 2003, but has never presented it to lawmakers for ratification, stopped applying it this month after the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to report Tehran to the UN Security Council.

 

"If such guarantees were accepted, Iran would agree to submit to parliament for ratification the additional protocol"

Iranian embassy statement

The embassy statement linked the new offer to the West accepting its use of "modern centrifuges, proposed by some US and British scientists, which permit only limited enrichment.

 

"If such guarantees were accepted, Iran would agree to submit to parliament for ratification the additional protocol," it said.

   

Russian offer

 

Iran says it only wants to produce low-grade enriched uranium, suitable for use in power reactors. But many Western countries fear it could use the same technology to manufacture highly enriched uranium, which can be used to make atomic warheads.

 

It was not immediately clear why the embassy had issued the statement rather than government officials in Tehran.

 

Iran has been stressing on a  
negotiated solution to the crisis

Several senior Iranian officials have stressed in recent days their desire to find a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue.

   

"Today, we are a nuclear country and we are ready to negotiate with other countries to remove their concerns," Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, told state television on Thursday.

   

"If a proper solution is suggested, we are ready to negotiate; they have to stop threatening us with sanctions and other threats," he said.

   

"I believe that apart from America and Israel, the other countries want to find a way out of the current situation and we want a solution as well, so everyone should make an attempt to resolve the issue," he added.

   

The embassy statement made no mention of Moscow's proposal to enrich Iranian uranium on Russian soil and return it to Iran for use in atomic reactors, a move designed to ease concerns that Iran could produce bomb-grade uranium.

   

Russia and Iran are due to hold talks in Moscow on Monday about Russia's offer to enrich uranium for power station fuel on Iran's behalf.