UPI: Russian President Vladimir Putin says he’ll talk with Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Beijing. United Press International
BEIJING, June 5 (UPI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he’ll talk with Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Beijing.
The Putin-Ahmadinejad talks in Beijing come as the Russian president prepares to host the so-called “P5+1” group — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany — this month in a round of negotiations on aimed at halting Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.
The Kremlin made the announcement Sunday through Yuri Ushakov, a former ambassador to the United States who advises the Russian leader on foreign policy, RIA Novosti reported.
He said Putin’s meeting with Ahmadinejad and on the sidelines of the SCO conference will allow him to “feel the heat surrounding the Iranian problem and see how this issue is perceived in Tehran.”
Iran has been invited to attend the Beijing event as a observer, sharing that status with India, Pakistan and Mongolia. The SCO is a Central Asian security group comprised of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Its members are stepping up military, intelligence and counter-terrorism cooperation, especially when it comes to Afghanistan, Western analysts say.
The latest round of P5+1 talks in Baghdad saw Iran reject calls for a halt in its uranium enrichment activities, which are necessary to produce weapons-grade nuclear material.
Ahmadinejad told France24 television last week his country has “a right” to enrich uranium to 20 percent — the level necessary to produce isotopes for medical and research reactors.
Ninety percent enrichment is required to reach the levels necessary for an atomic weapon.
Ushakov said Russia, which has generally refused to take part in Western economic sanctions against Iran, continues to support Tehran’s use of nuclear technology for “peaceful” purposes.
“We weren’t too happy with the results of the last round of talks but we determined the mutual readiness to continue the discussion,” he said, adding the Kremlin will “promote the thought that Iran’s right to develop peaceful energy under the oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency should be approved.”
The IAEA announced after the Baghdad talks it had found uranium particles enriched up to 27 percent at the Fordow fuel enrichment plant near Qom, CNN reported.
Iran told the nuclear watchdog such particles “above the target value” may happen for technical reasons beyond the operator’s control.
While Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said last month Iran will consider halting its 20 percent uranium enrichment if the West recognizes its “civilian” nuclear program, Ahmadinejad told the French broadcaster he didn’t expect the June 18-19 talks in Moscow to yield major breakthroughs.
“We are not expecting miracles at the next nuclear meeting in Moscow,” he said.
In the meantime, the United States has ramped up economic pressure on Tehran. The U.S. Senate on May 21 unanimously approved a package of new economic sanctions on Iran’s oil sector.
That move brought a negative reaction from Moscow, which denounced the “unilateral sanctions” against Iran run contrary to international law.
“I hope this excessive stance by the US lawmakers will ultimately meet a responsible attitude by the U.S. administration and the U.S. president,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Iran’s PressTV.
“As Iran takes a step toward the global community, the world community should take steps for weaker sanctions against Iran,” he said.