AFP: Russia still hopes for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme, a deputy foreign minister said Monday, as the West steps up pressure for new sanctions against Tehran. MOSCOW (AFP) — Russia still hopes for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme, a deputy foreign minister said Monday, as the West steps up pressure for new sanctions against Tehran.
"We still have not lost hope for a solution to the Iranian nuclear problem through dialogue with Iran," Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's pointman on Iran nuclear talks, told the Interfax news agency.
He insisted concerns that Iran was working to develop an atomic bomb had not yet reached a critical threshold after which Russia would turn to new sanctions to force a change in the Islamic republic's stance.
"Nothing is happening today which would give grounds to talk of a 'new page' or a 'new chapter'. Normal discussions are going on, as they have always been and will be," he was quoted as saying.
The five permanent UN Security Council members — Russia, Britain, China, France and the United States — plus Germany have been involved in talks with Iran for months to try to end the nuclear standoff.
Moscow, which has close diplomatic and trade relations with Tehran, has been reluctant to agree to new sanctions but has taken a harder line on Iran in recent weeks.
Russia has also said it will go ahead with the launch of Tehran's first nuclear power station, which it has helped build in the southern city of Bushehr since the mid-1990s, despite concerns over Iran's nuclear activities.
The United States and its allies suspect Iran is secretly trying to develop the atomic bomb, but Tehran says its nuclear drive is purely for civilian energy purposes, and that it has the right to nuclear technology.