Report: Russia Gives Iran Nuclear Ultimatum
20 March 2007
A U.S. newspaper says Russia has told Iran that it will withhold fuel for a nearly completed nuclear power plant, unless Tehran suspends enriching uranium.
The New York Times quotes unnamed European, Iranian and U.S. officials as saying the ultimatum was delivered last week by the secretary of the Russian National Security Council, Igor Ivanov, to Iran's deputy chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Hosseini.
Earlier this month, Russia said it was delaying the delivery of nuclear fuel to Iran because Tehran was late on payments. Iranian officials denied the accusation.
Russia is building the nuclear power plant at Bushehr in southern Iran.
In another development, South Africa submitted proposals Monday that would weaken a United Nations draft resolution aimed at imposing more sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program. South Africa is this month's president of the U.N. Security Council.
British and French diplomats criticized the South African proposals. But Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quotes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying Moscow considers many of the proposals justified.
Representatives from Germany and the five permanent Council members - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - agreed on a draft resolution last week.
The draft resolution strengthens penalties imposed late last year after Iran refused to stop enriching uranium, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons.
The United States and its allies suspect Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge but has given no sign that it is ready to stop enriching uranium.
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