Sunday, April 20, 2008

Russian FM: "It is better if Iran listens to the IAEA. This is better for everyone!"

( 21, 2008)

Russia urged Iran on Sunday to heed the U.N. nuclear watchdog's call for it to suspend sensitive nuclear work that could be used to make atomic bomb material. Iran, in turn, said it was ready to give whatever assurances were required to show that it will not use nuclear technology to make atomic weapons.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said that all Iran asked in return was for the world to accept its right to a peaceful nuclear programme to generate electricity. Iran hid parts of its nuclear programme for nearly two decades, fuelling U.S. accusations that it is secretly developing atomic arms. Iran denies this but has refused to comply with demands made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it halt all activities related to uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make fuel for power reactors or for bombs.

Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Iran to reconsider. "As (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has suggested before, it is better if Iran listens to the agency's call. This is better for everyone," he told a joint news conference in Tehran with Kharrazi. The United States wants Iran's case to be sent to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions if Iran has not complied with IAEA demands by the time of the U.N. watchdog's next meeting in late November. Iran last week said it had converted several tonnes of raw uranium to prepare it for enrichment. "Nuclear technology, including enriching uranium, is Iran's right and Iran will never abandon its right," Kharrazi said. "But at the same time Iran is ready to review all the proposals with which it can assure the international community that Iran's nuclear programme has no military purposes."

In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, a senior Iranian official said Tehran was even willing to listen to ideas from the United States, such as one put forward by Sen. John Kerry's running mate Sen. John Edwards, to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions. "Iran welcomes any constructive proposal from any American candidate," said Hossein Mousavian, Iran's delegation head at recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meetings. Edwards has said a Kerry government would be willing to supply Iran with nuclear fuel for power generation if Tehran abandons its own fuel-making capability. If Iran refused the offer it would confirm it wants to make atomic weapons, Edwards has said. Asked about Mousavian's comments Kharrazi confirmed the Iran was willing to listen to such proposals. "We welcome any constructive proposal which preserves Iran's rights and also removes Western countries' concerns," he said. Lavrov, whose country's technical support for Iran's nuclear programme has annoyed Washington, said Moscow and Tehran were in the final stages of reaching an agreement on the supply and return of nuclear fuel for Iran's first nuclear reactor which is being built with Russian help. The Bushehr reactor in southern Iran is due to come onstream in late 2006.


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