Iran Nuclear NewsRussia reiterates twin-track approach to Iran

Russia reiterates twin-track approach to Iran

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Reuters: Russia reiterated on Friday its support for a dual track of inducements and U.N. Security Council pressure to contain Iran’s nuclear programme, but did not make clear if it backed a U.S. push for tougher sanctions. BRUSSELS, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Russia reiterated on Friday its support for a dual track of inducements and U.N. Security Council pressure to contain Iran’s nuclear programme, but did not make clear if it backed a U.S. push for tougher sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seeking support for a third round of U.N. sanctions after a U.S. intelligence report found Tehran halted its atomic weapons programme four years ago, met Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of a NATO meeting.

“It was an extension of other conversations we’ve had,” Rice said afterwards, when asked if Russia backed tougher sanctions.

“We are going to continue our work on a U.N. Security Council resolution,” she told a news conference. “It was a continuation of that discussion and a recommitment to our two-track approach.”

Lavrov told a news conference Moscow saw U.N. Security Council action as a way to support the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been trying to get to the bottom of Iran’s secretive nuclear programme and ensure it is for peaceful purposes only.

“As we had agreed among us six, the Security Council should react to the development of the situation, depending on the way Iran’s dialogue with the IAEA develops,” he said.

“In the positive aspect, we have noticed that Iran has become more active to cooperate with the IAEA and we count that this cooperation will become all-embracing.”

Moscow, which has consistently balked at imposing strong economic sanctions against Iran, has said any plan for new measures must take the new intelligence report into account.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released this week contradicted the Bush administration’s earlier assertion that Iran was intent on building a nuclear bomb, the main reason cited by Washington for urgent action against Tehran.

EU and NATO foreign ministers agreed on Thursday there was no reason to change their position of threatening sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said.

Two rounds of sanctions have been imposed because Iran has failed to heed a U.N. demand that it suspend uranium enrichment, which the West believes Tehran is trying to master so it can build bombs.

Iran insists it wants only fuel for power plants.

Rice said the major powers should also start to look at ways to make Iran account for what it was doing before 2003 on its nuclear program.

Russia, also part of the U.N. Security Council with veto power, has said Russian intelligence has no evidence that Iran had an atomic arms programme before 2003. (Reporting by Sue Pleming; Writing by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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