Iran Nuclear NewsIran nuclear moves 'alarming': Russian defense minister

Iran nuclear moves ‘alarming’: Russian defense minister

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AFP: Iran’s decision to resume sensitive nuclear research is “cause for alarm,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday. MOSCOW, Jan 11, 2006 (AFP) – Iran’s decision to resume sensitive nuclear research is “cause for alarm,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday.

The decision to resume the nuclear research “personally disappoints me and gives some cause for alarm,” Russian news agencies quoted Ivanov as saying.

The powerful Russian minister declined to speculate on whether the growing confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program would lead to action by the UN Security Council, but said things were not moving in a positive direction for anyone.

“As a permanent UN Security Council member, Russia reserves the right to act according to the situation. But whatever the case may be, the situation is not developing in the most favorable way,” the agencies quoted him as saying.

Ivanov, who also holds the post of deputy prime minister, spoke as foreign ministers from the three main European Union countries leading negotiations with Iran — Britain, France and Germany — prepared to meet Thursday in Berlin to discuss how to proceed on the crisis.

Iran on Tuesday announced the end of a two-year suspension of nuclear fuel research, escalating the long-running standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

The move drew condemnation from the United States and the European Union and other countries around the world amid concerns that Iran could be seeking to build an atomic bomb.

Tehran says that suspicion is unfounded and insists its nuclear program is strictly for civilian energy.

Iran’s influential former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said earlier Wednesday that Iran would not give up its nuclear program despite international condemnation of its decision to resume sensitive research that could pave the way to development of means to make nuclear bombs.

“This is a sensitive issue. We can not give up our rights, No Iranian will be ready to give up our rights, and they should know that we will remain firm,” Iran’s former influential president said in Tehran.

Also on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry published a statement saying that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had discussed the Iran nuclear crisis during a telephone conversation late Tuesday.

The statement gave no other details.

Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia, which is helping the Islamic republic construct its first civilian nuclear reactor, was worried about Iran’s decision to resume the nuclear research at a facility at Natanz.

Russia has proposed that Iran agree to create a joint venture for the enrichment of uranium at a controlled site on Russian territory — a plan generally supported by the West — and says it is still awaiting a clear response from Tehran to that offer.

Lavrov said Russia would work to convince Iran to return to a moratorium on sensitive nuclear research until negotiations with Tehran, which Moscow says are still in progress, are completed.

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