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Ivanov Says Russia Against Confrontation With Iran

"I have hopes for the talks between Russia and Iran planned for mid-February with probable participation by the Chinese," Ivanov said.
by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Feb 09, 2006
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov warned in a newspaper interview on Thursday against international confrontation with Iran over its nuclear programme, saying it would have "irreversible" consequences.

"We will never allow for a confrontation which which could lead to conflict," Ivanov said in the interview with Italy's La Stampa newspaper, ahead of talks between Russia and Iran in Moscow next week over the controversial programme.

"Any attempt to push Iran to a show of force could have irreversible consequences," he said.

"I have hopes for the talks between Russia and Iran planned for mid-February with probable participation by the Chinese," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has voted to report Iran to the UN Security Council over its nascent nuclear energy program, which the West suspects it is using as cover to devlop a nuclear weapons program, a charge Tehran denies.

Moscow has proposed that the Iranians carry out enrichment on Russian soil in order to allay fears that Teheran will develop a bomb, whilst at the same time guaranteeing it access to nuclear fuel.

The two sides are scheduled to meet in Moscow on Thursday week, with Russia keen to reach a negotiated settlement and guard its economic interests -- which include a billion-dollar deal to build Iran's first reactor.

Iran, which says it wants to enrich uranium only to make reactor fuel, triggered a crisis by resuming uranium conversion activities last August and enrichment research on January 10.

On Monday, it officially notified the IAEA that it would resume full-scale uranium enrichment, ending a two-year-old freeze on the work in response to the IAEA's weekend vote to report it to the UN Security Council.

It says its nuclear program is only for energy, while the United States and European Union believe Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons.

Ivanov was in Italy to attend a meeting with NATO defence ministers in Sicily.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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