Iran calls on Russia to help resolve nuclear loggerheads

Publish date: October 5, 2006

Iranian National Security Council head Ali Larijani has expressed hope that Russia can help settle the dispute over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme – an initiative Russia has forwarded itself several times - the DPA news agency reported.

“Both of us have agreed that solving the situation through negotiations is possible and we hope that Russia can help us in this direction,” Larijani said Tuesday at a joint press conference in Tehran with Russia’s Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov.

Larijani and Ivanov discussed the nuclear dispute for three hours behind closed doors at Iran’ National Security office, the MOSNEWS website reported.

“Russia can play an effective role to enable a diplomatic solution, especially as we share close standpoints on the issue,” Larijani said.

Ivanov also said that Russia firmly believed that the nuclear dispute could be settled through negotiations, the DPA agency reported.

“Russia will do whatever possible to make negotiations work and lead to positive results,” Ivanov said.

Business is thicker than water
Russia is building an $800m 1,000-megawatt light water reactor for Iran in the Persian Gulf port of Bushehr – with the promise of more to come. The Bushehr reactor is expected to be fully operation by November 2007, with the first batch of Russian-made fuel arriving at the site in March.

Russia – which shares other lucrative oil arrangements with Iran – has also recently led the charge to extend the United Nations Security Imposed deadline for Iran to cease uranium enrichment or face sanctions, a stance that has put it in conflict with the United States, which is zealously leading the drive for sanctions against Tehran. Washington believes that Iran is building a nuclear weapons programme and is pursuing all available intelligence channels to attempt to prove this.

Iran has repeatedly denied US allegations, saying the enrichment programme is for the benefit of its incipient nuclear energy push. The United States, meanwhile, has warned Iran that the time for further negotiations is running out.

In the meantime, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the entire Iranian nuclear and foreign relations establishment have reiterated several times that they will not stop uranium enrichment under any circumstances.

Ahmadinejad skipped the first deadline to cease enrichment on August 31st, rattling the US establishment and leading to talk about possible military action against Iran.

A second deadline for the first week of October was advanced by European negotiators and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during sideline talks at the UN General Assembly meeting three weeks ago. But that, too, has failed to achieve cessation of Iran’s uranium enrichment.

European diplomats have discussed the possibility of moving the deadline back to December. The United States, meanwhile, refuses to even come to the negotiating table until Iran has verifiably stopped enrichment.

The French connection
Larijani further refrained from commenting on an interview by Iranian Atomic Energy Agency deputy, Mohammad Saidi, with France Info radio Tuesday in which he had proposed that France create a consortium for the production of enriched uranium in Iran.

Besides Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, Larijani is the only official to disclose political decisions by the Iranian government on nuclear issues. Saidi has so far been responsible for technical issues only.