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. Russia hails Iranian freeze on nuclear fuel work
MOSCOW (AFP) Nov 22, 2004
Russia said Monday that Iran's announcement that it was suspending uranium enrichment, a key part of the nuclear fuel cycle, was a step forward that showed greater cooperation with the UN atomic watchdog.

"We believe it is a step in the right direction and that Iran's cooperation with the IAEA is reinforcing," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Yakovenko said Moscow was waiting for confirmation by the agency that Iran was fulfilling its promise, ahead of an IAEA board of governors' meeting that starts Thursday in Vienna.

Moscow has been opposed to calls, led notably by the United States, for the Islamic regime to be taken to the UN Security Council with a view to possible sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Washington claims that Iran has been covertly developing a nuclear weapons capability, while Tehran insists its nuclear programme is purely peaceful.

Russia has said it wants an active part in developing the programme and is already in the process of completing Iran's first nuclear power plant.

Earlier Monday, Tehran said it was suspending uranium enrichment following an agreement worked out a week ago with Britain, France and Germany.

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