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Iran Ready to Negotiate Deal to Allay Nuclear-Program Concern, Russia Says

Image of Mapof Iran in Sytlized Radar Scope ViewerIran is ready for a negotiated deal to allay concerns about its nuclear program, Russia said a day after a senior Iranian official held talks in Moscow.

Russia won't support new sanctions against Iran even after the United Nations atomic watchdog concluded in a report that the country continued work on developing a nuclear weapon until at least last year, Alexander Lukashevich, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said by telephone in the Russian capital today.

"Iran has confirmed that it wants to resolve all outstanding issues with the IAEA," Lukashevich said, referring to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency. "This is incompatible with efforts to impose new sanctions, which will only drive any prospects of negotiations into a dead end."

The U.S. and European allies say they will press for further economic punitive measures against Iran. Russia supported four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions from 2006 to 2010. Britain will press China and Russia, both veto-wielding members of the security council, to increase pressure on Iran, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said yesterday.

Moscow Talks

The deputy head of Iran's National Security Council, Ali Baqeri, yesterday met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow to discuss the Iranian nuclear program, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Russia wants to resolve the dispute by lifting sanctions against Iran in stages, in return for Iranian cooperation on inspections. The offer is "still on the negotiating table," Lavrov said this week.

China believes sanctions against Iran won't fundamentally resolve problems related to the country's nuclear program, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a briefing in Beijing today.

Iran and the international community should negotiate a solution within the framework of six-party talks, Hong said.

The world's fourth-largest oil producer has rejected UN demands to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used both for generating electricity and making nuclear warheads. Negotiations broke down in January after talks in Istanbul between Iran and the five permanent members of the security council -- China, France, Russia, the U.K. and U.S. -- as well as Germany.

IAEA Conclusion

The Vienna-based IAEA concluded the Persian Gulf nation has pursued a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on its ballistic missiles in the strongest doubts it has expressed about Iran's insistence it is only seeking peaceful atomic power. The findings bolster the arguments of U.S. and European officials who say negotiations with Iran have failed to halt a covert nuclear-weapons program.

Iran won't withdraw "an iota" from its atomic program, said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, dismissing the IAEA report as "baseless" in a speech broadcast on Iranian state television yesterday.

Russia has said the IAEA accusations date back 10 years and contain "nothing new." Lukashevich said today the report's release was aimed at preventing the resumption of dialogue with Iran.

Newspapers in Israel have reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised the prospect of Israeli military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons that would threaten Israel. Military experts say that Israel would need U.S. participation to be effective.

Lavrov said Nov. 7 that an Israeli military strike against Iran would be a "serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences."

Article ©2011 BLOOMBERG L.P. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED; article also appeared at www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-10/iran-ready-to-negotiate-deal-to-allay-nuclear-program-concern-russia-says.html

Russia, Iran - Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

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