AFP: Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward a proposal to break the deadlock over Iran’s nuclear programme during his landmark visit to the Islamic republic, Iranian officials said on Wednesday. TEHRAN (AFP) Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward a proposal to break the deadlock over Iran’s nuclear programme during his landmark visit to the Islamic republic, Iranian officials said on Wednesday.
The announcement came as Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani revealed he would be holding his latest round of talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to find a solution to the atomic standoff on Tuesday in Rome.
No further details were given on Putin’s proposal, which was made during his talks on Tuesday with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“Putin put forward a special suggestion during his meeting with the supreme leader,” said Larijani, adding the details would be given at a later date.
“One of the questions evoked in this suggestion are the nuclear activities that we are currently in the process of examining,” he said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
Khamenei was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency as telling Putin: “We will consider what you said and your proposal.”
Putin’s audience with Khamenei was the culmination of his day-long trip to Iran and Iranian state media quoted him as telling the supreme leader the visit had “opened a new page” in relations between the two countries.
Russia — which is helping to build Tehran’s first nuclear power plant — has a long-standing proposal to carry out Iran’s controversial uranium enrichment activities on its soil, something that Tehran has rejected.
It was not clear if the new proposal was linked to this.
Despite having failed to find a breakthrough in several meetings over the past year, Larijani said he was set for the new meeting with the EU foreign policy chief.
“Next Tuesday, I will meet Mr Solana in Rome,” said Larijani, according to the ISNA news agency.
But the key sticking point remains Iran’s refusal to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment activities, which the West fears could be diverted from peaceful energy uses towards making a nuclear bomb.
Iran insists it only wants to generate electricity and has consistently refused to budge an inch on its right to the full nuclear fuel cycle but has been slapped with two sets of UN sanctions for its defiance.
Solana must report to major world powers Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States before mid-November on Iran’s willingness to give up uranium enrichment in exchange for political and trade incentives.
Should his report and a similar briefing by UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei prove negative for Iran, it faces more UN sanctions and unilateral actions from Western powers.
The United States has also never ruled out the option of military action against Iran — an idea Putin vehemently rejected during his visit to Tehran to attend a summit of Caspian Sea states.
“It is important… that we not only do not use any kind of force but also do not even think about the possibility of using force,” he said.
He also backed Iran’s right to nuclear energy: “Peaceful nuclear activities must be allowed,” Putin told a news conference.
His visit, the first by a Kremlin chief since World War II, was seen as a boost for Iran at a time of increasing Western pressure over its nuclear programme.
“The Russian statements showed a deep difference of opinion between Russia on one side and America and France on the other side in dealing with Iran’s nuclear case,” said the hardline Jomhouri Islami daily
Meanwhile, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency are to hold new talks next week as part of their agreement to clarify the agency’s technical questions about the Iranian nuclear drive.