Iran Nuclear NewsRussia raps Iran's missile practice near Bushehr

Russia raps Iran’s missile practice near Bushehr

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Reuters: Russia, Iran’s closest major ally, criticized Tehran on Wednesday for what it said was air defense missile practice near an Iranian nuclear power plant without informing Russian specialists who work there. MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia, Iran’s closest major ally, criticized Tehran on Wednesday for what it said was air defense missile practice near an Iranian nuclear power plant without informing Russian specialists who work there.

The United States and other Western countries believe Iran wants to make a nuclear bomb, but Tehran has always said it wants atomic energy for power production alone.

Bushehr is Iran’s first nuclear power plant and is being constructed with Russian help. Russia has previously watered down international sanctions aimed at Iran’ nuclear ambitions, although earlier this year the two countries clashed over late payments for the Bushehr construction.

Sergei Novikov, a spokesman for Russia’s atomic agency Rosatom, said tests of what he believed were air defense rockets had been carried out on April 6 at 5 a.m. near the plant where 2,000 Russians work.

“Russian specialists weren’t warned about this practice and were woken up by the artillery roar, which of course, in our view, creates tension on the site and disrupts their work,” he said by telephone.

Iran has held a series of what it says are defensive military maneuvers on its territory in recent months that included missile practice.

The latest maneuvers, which were due to finish at the end of March, included naval training in the north and middle Gulf region, which would have covered an area near the Gulf port city of Bushehr.

Russia said it had contacted Tehran to express its concern at the missile practice.

“The Russian embassy expressed its surprise and asked Tehran to inform the Russian personnel in Bushehr in advance about such plans,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin told Interfax news agency.

A Russian negotiating team is currently in Tehran talking to their Iranian counterparts on the Bushehr nuclear project. Iran had delayed payments for the project angering the Kremlin earlier this year.

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