Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Kremlin Rejects European Pressure On Iran

Dow Jones Newswires:
Russia rejects the European tactic of pressuring Iran on its nuclear program, Russian news agencies quoted a Kremlin official as saying ahead of President Vladimir Putin's Tuesday meeting with European Union leaders in London.

Moscow opposes Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons as much as any other country, the unnamed official was quoted as saying, but added that sanctions could lead to "unpredictable sentiments" and spark "the radicalization of sentiment in Iran." READ MORE

On Monday, at the U.N., the U.S. urged governments to end nuclear projects with Iran in light of a recent finding by the U.N. nuclear watchdog that Tehran isn't complying with the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Stephen G. Rademaker, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for arms control, didn't mention Russia by name, but Moscow is building a nuclear reactor in the Iranian city of Bushehr.

A Russian Foreign Ministry official, Anatoly Antonov, said Moscow was bewildered by the call. He said Russian-Iranian cooperation in the peaceful atomic energy sphere "is no secret to anyone," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Tuesday.

"It is transparent and it is supported internationally," he was quoted as saying.

"We believe that it is now essential to dampen emotions," Antonov added, saying negotiations should seek concrete agreement on ways to dispel doubts over Tehran's nuclear program while guaranteeing "Iran's legitimate requirements for nuclear energy."

Iran insists its nuclear program is for energy purposes, while the U.S. is concerned that the million, Russian-built reactor could help Tehran develop nuclear weapons. Still, U.S. officials had praised Moscow for demanding a deal - signed in February - that obliges Iran to return spent nuclear fuel from Bushehr to make sure it isn't used in weapons programs.

Russian and Iranian officials reaffirmed Monday last month that the Bushehr plant would be started by the end of 2006.