Iran Nuclear NewsIran nuclear dispute moves to Moscow

Iran nuclear dispute moves to Moscow

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AP: The diplomatic maneuvering around Tehran’s disputed nuclear program moved to Moscow on Monday as the top U.S. security official and Iran’s foreign minister held separate consultations with top Russian officials, and Tehran agreed to resume contacts with Europe. By JUDITH INGRAM

Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW (AP) – The diplomatic maneuvering around Tehran’s disputed nuclear program moved to Moscow on Monday as the top U.S. security official and Iran’s foreign minister held separate consultations with top Russian officials, and Tehran agreed to resume contacts with Europe.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also reiterated Tehran’s warnings that Iran might refuse U.N. watchdog agency inspections if its case is brought before the U.N. Security Council.

“If Iran’s nuclear dossier is brought to the U.N. Security Council, Iran may give up the voluntary fulfillment of the additional protocol to the nuclear non-proliferation agreement,” Mottaki was quoted as saying by the RIA-Novosti news agency, referring to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Even if Iran’s nuclear dossier is brought to the U.N. Security Council, Iran will not give up its lawful right to create its own nuclear fuel cycle.”

The simultaneous visits came as Washington was pressing efforts to confront Iran over its atomic energy program, which the United States suspects is a cover for nuclear weapons development.

U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley had meetings with five top-level officials, including President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of Russia’s atomic energy agency, which is directing construction of a $800 million nuclear reactor in the Iranian city of Bushehr that is scheduled for launch by the end of 2006.

“We are conducting a wide discussion with Russia on this topic (of Iran),” Hadley was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency. “Our positions are similar, and we are agreed on the basic points.”

However, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice failed earlier this month to break through Moscow’s opposition to hauling Iran before the Security Council. She did say, though, that Moscow was trying to push its ally Iran back to the bargaining table.

Lavrov and Mottaki met Monday afternoon, after the Russian foreign minister had received Hadley, and said that Tehran would resume contacts with European countries over the disputed nuclear program – though they did not say what form those contacts would take.

Talks between Iran and the EU’s three negotiating partners – Britain, France and Germany – collapsed in August after Iran resumed uranium conversion, a precursor to enriching it for use in a nuclear reactor.

The two ministers called for all questions concerning Iran’s disputed nuclear program to be handled through the IAEA.

Lavrov said the goal was to find a “mutually acceptable decision” to secure Iran’s rights concerning the peaceful use of atomic energy – one that “would not leave any doubts as to the peaceful character of such activity.”

Russia’s Kommersant daily reported Monday that Russia was proposing to Tehran that it stop independent work in enriching uranium. In exchange, Moscow would establish a joint venture with Iran on Russian territory to enrich uranium for use in Iranian reactors.

“The problem is that Tehran has not expressed the least interest in this proposal and is insisting on its own right to engaging in producing nuclear fuel,” Kommersant commented

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