Iran Nuclear NewsRussia says Iran nuclear visit can't replace talks

Russia says Iran nuclear visit can’t replace talks

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Reuters: Russia said on Thursday that Iran’s offer to tour the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities deserved attention but cautioned that such a visit could never replace regular nuclear inspections or talks with major powers.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Thursday that Iran’s offer to tour the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities deserved attention but cautioned that such a visit could never replace regular nuclear inspections or talks with major powers.

When asked about Russia’s stance on Iran’s offer, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said such a visit could never replace regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or big power talks. Iran has restricted such inspections.

“It really does deserve attention. We consider that any gesture which indicates Iran’s further openness for cooperation with the international community should be welcomed. How can such a trip be organised? That is a sphere for the specialists,” he said.

“But I would also like to highlight two things: of course such a visit should in no way at all be seen as a substitution for IAEA inspections, and second, such a visit… must not be seen as a substitution for the talks between Iran and the Six.”

The Six is a phrase used to diplomats to describe the major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — involved in discussions with Iran on its nuclear program. The next round of talks is set for January 21-22.

Russia and China, which have significant trade and energy ties with Iran, have tended to take a softer line on Iranian nuclear ambitions than Western powers and have watered down several U.N. sanctions resolutions against Tehran.

The European Union rejected Iran’s invitation last week, with diplomats saying the offered nuclear plant tour was seen as window-dressing distracting from concerns over Iran’s uranium enrichment drive, while the United States was not invited.

(Reporting by Steve Gutterman, writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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