Monday, May 09, 2005

Iran Distances Itself From Scandal Surrounding Russia's Ex-Nuclear Energy Minister

Nikolai Terekhov, RIA Novosti:
The arrest in Switzerland earlier this week of former Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Sergei Adamov has nothing to do with cooperation between Russia and Iran in nuclear engineering, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi has said in a statement.

"Russo-Iranian cooperation in the nuclear sector is fully transparent in nature, and is done within the framework of international rules and regulations," Assefi told a news conference Sunday. He assured the press that in Iraq's nuclear projects, there had not been a single deviation from the peaceful vector.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry's statement comes after reports by Western news media that the United States was demanding Adamov's extradition allegedly to interrogate him on Iran's nuclear programs (it will be remembered that Washington suspects Tehran of developing nuclear weapons). The ministry spokesman dismissed the reports as groundless rumors. READ MORE

Russian specialists are completing the construction in Iran of the first reactor for the Bushehr nuclear power plant; it is to be commissioned in 2006.

Adamov, 65, who was Russia's Nuclear Energy Minister in 1998 through 2001, was detained in Bern on May 2. The arrest warrant had been issued by a Pennsylvania district court. The man is currently in Swiss custody pending extradition. It is known that Adamov actively lobbied for the "Bushehr project."

American authorities have charged Adamov and a business associate of his, U.S. national Mark Kaushanski, with misappropriation of $9 million granted by the U.S. Energy Department for the improvement of Russia's nuclear security systems. If convicted, Adamov will face a prison sentence of up to 60 years and a $1.75 million fine. The Russian ex-minister denies any wrongdoing.