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. US denies urging Russia to freeze nuclear cooperation with Iran
WASHINGTON (AFP) Oct 04, 2005
The United States on Tuesday denied it wanted Russia to freeze all nuclear cooperation with Iran, backtracking on earlier statements from a US diplomat.

The US government does not oppose an agreement between Russia and Iran for construction of a nuclear power plant because the deal ensures Moscow secure all spent fuel that could otherwise be diverted to military use, said US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The agreement "addresses the concerns that the United States has and others in the international community have with regard to Iran getting access to those sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities," McCormack said.

The spokesman's comments contradicted earlier remarks by Stephen Rademaker, US assistant secretary of state, who told a UN panel on Monday that "no government should permit new nuclear transfers to Iran, and all ongoing nuclear projects should be frozen".

Iran's disputed nuclear program has been a source of friction between Russia and the United States, with Moscow keen to follow through with its 800 million dollar deal to build a reactor in the Iranian port of Bushehr.

The board of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month adopted a resolution condemning Iran for resuming uranium enrichment activities.

The resolution found Iran in "non-compliance" with nuclear proliferation safeguards, a possible trigger for taking the matter to the UN Security Council.

Russia abstained from voting on the resolution, but the State Department said it believed Moscow agreed with the IAEA's position.

"I think that Russia shares the concerns of IAEA board members that are on this that Iran not be allowed to pursue a covert nuclear weapons program," McCormack said.

"We look forward to further consultations with Russia on how to address the Iranian nuclear problem at the November IAEA board meeting."

Member states of the IAEA's board of governors are due to meet on November 24 to discuss Iran's nuclear project.

Iran, which denies it is pursuing a clandestine weapons program, initially reacted to the IAEA reprimand by threatening to go ahead with uranium enrichment and warned it could withhold oil deliveries from the world market.

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