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Russia Hints Domestic Iranian Uranium Enrichment A Possibility

Russia is trying to find a diplomatic way out of a crisis in which the IAEA has reported Iran to the UN Security Council based on Washington's charges that the Islamic Republic is secretly developing the bomb.
by Staff Writers
Vienna, Austria (AFP) Feb 15, 2006
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hinted Wednesday that Russia could back Iran's enriching uranium on its own if Tehran convinced the international community it does not seek nuclear weapons.

But he stressed that this could only come after Iran re-establishes good faith with the UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which insists that Iran suspend work on enrichment, the process that makes nuclear fuel but also atom bomb material, as a "confidence-building measure."

Moscow backs the IAEA call and is proposing a compromise under which Iran would enrich uranium in Russia to keep it from obtaining the technology needed for making nuclear weapons.

"When there is enough time to re-establish confidence and re-establish transparency, we could come back I believe also to the possible implementation of the right that Iran indeed has to develop a nuclear energy sector full-scale," Lavrov told a press conference in Vienna.

Russia is trying to find a diplomatic way out of a crisis in which the IAEA has reported Iran to the UN Security Council based on Washington's charges that the Islamic Republic is secretly developing the bomb.

Lavrov is to meet March 6-7 in Washington with his US counterpart Condoleezza Rice to discuss international concerns over Iran's nuclear program, the Russian foreign ministry said Wednesday.

He said it was clear that for Moscow's compromise proposal to happen, "Iran has to resume its moratorium for enrichment on its own soil."

But he also warned that UN Security Council sanctions against Iran would only escalate the crisis.

"Sanctions would not help. They never help to find a solution to a problem. Sanctions are just a prelude to further exacerbation," Lavrov told the press conference after meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is a peaceful effort to generate electricity and that its right to enrich uranium is guaranteed in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The IAEA has however said there are doubts about Iran's peaceful intentions and has reported it to the Security Council, which can take punitive action.

The agency has also called on Iran to cease all enrichment work, cooperate with IAEA inspectors and return to talks with the European Union on guaranteeing that its nuclear program is peaceful.

Plassnik, whose country holds the EU presidency, said Iran should abandon uranium enrichment, which it resumed this week in defiance of the IAEA.

The Security Council will hear a report from the IAEA in March on Iran's nuclear program before deciding what measures to take.

"We urge Iran to reverse this step," Plassnik said about enrichment.

Russia is to meet with Iran next week to discuss the Russian compromise proposal.

Lavrov stressed that the proposal is "part of a package" that includes Iran suspending enrichment.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
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US Launches Broad Diplomatic Offensive Against Iran
Washington DC (AFP) Feb 15, 2006
The United States signaled Wednesday a broadened diplomatic offensive against Iran, claiming Tehran posed a "strategic challenge" to the world on several fronts beyond fears over its nuclear program.







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