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#9 - JRL 7208
BBC Monitoring
Russian pundits differ on Russian-Iranian cooperation
Source: Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 0900 gmt 3 Jun 03

[Presenter] Sergey Generalov, Russian State Duma deputy, who used to head a government commission on Russian-Iranian cooperation, says that despite the commercial gain from our work in Iran, the situation in that country concerning spent nuclear fuel is so dangerous right now that radical steps are essential.

[Generalov] Iran refuses to sign an addendum to the nonproliferation treaty and a corresponding addendum to the contract with Russia concerning the removal [to Russia] of spent nuclear fuel. As a rule, a country which is building an atomic power station takes upon itself an obligation to utilize, or store, or reprocess spent nuclear fuel. Hence Russia ought to remove fully the entire amount of spent nuclear fuel to have it reprocessed in Russia. Incidentally, Iran ought to pay for this. It is valuable from the business point of view and it is an additional source of revenue, including revenue for the Russian budget.

However, the main thing is something else: the main thing is that this fuel may be used for Iran's weapons-grade nuclear programme. For as long as this issue remains unresolved on the legal plane I think that the president of Russia has taken an absolutely correct decision to halt all work on this project.

[Presenter] Andrey Kokoshin, former secretary of the Russian Security Council, thinks that the suspension of cooperation with Iran in the nuclear sphere would be a well-thought-out and considered step.

[Kokoshin] Attention must simply be focused on the fact, I mean we also issued warnings and, incidentally, when I was Russian Security Council secretary I repeatedly drew the attention of my colleagues in the West to the very considerable leakage of various technologies in the West. It is another matter that in terms of the media coverage of this the West often had the upper hand, as it were, and it would point the accusing finger at us.

However, the time has now come to tackle this matter very seriously and jointly. There is evidence that now Iran has come, as it were, right up to what is called the red mark in the development of its nuclear engineering, not as far as the programmes it had with Russia are concerned, but in other directions. That is why, generally speaking, there is a great deal of evidence that Iran may indeed embark on a path of violating the nonproliferation treaty. That is why it is now exceptionally important for the entire international community to take measures to halt its movement in that direction.

[Presenter] One of the leaders of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Sergey Reshulskiy, thinks that Russia is in retreat over Iran and is losing the region as a whole.

[Reshulskiy] Most of the serious opposition to Saddam Husayn was in Iran all these years. It is perfectly natural that they have become imbued with the Iranian spirit and the USA is very concerned that normal elections in Iraq would produce a pro-Iranian government, leadership.

In order to resolve the so-called complex problem - a problem for them, that is - it is now necessary to achieve, or, rather, to finish off Iran. In this context this sort of bargaining is taking place, more or less: that if Russia lends her support to the American anti-Iranian actions, Russia will be given a promise that it will at some future time be allowed access, or that maybe it will be allowed access, to Iraq to develop the oilfields we have lost.

What is simply taking place is that crude pressure is being put on Russia. The president is making concessions, losing face and we as a free and sovereign country are losing our positions.

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