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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia to rely on IAEA view of Iran nuclear program -Kremlin aide

RIA Novosti

10/04/2007 17:45 MOSCOW, April 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will use the international nuclear watchdog's perspective in its assessment of Iran's nuclear program, a presidential aide said Tuesday.

"We will base our practical actions on IAEA conclusions," Sergei Prikhodko told a news conference at RIA Novosti.

Two experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have arrived in Iran to inspect the Natanz nuclear facility, an Iranian news agency said earlier Tuesday.

It is the second inspection of the uranium enrichment facility in central Iran conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency since the beginning of 2007, the Fars news agency said.

Tensions continue to grow over the Iranian nuclear program as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program since it resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006. But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.

Following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement Monday that the Islamic Republic had started producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale, reports have circulated that as many as 3,000 centrifuges had been launched at the Natanz center.

However, Iranian information agencies denied the figure later that day, citing Iranian energy and security officials as saying it was too early to announce their exact number.

IAEA experts are expected to work at the Natanz center until April 17.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Moscow was unable to confirm whether Iran has started uranium enrichment on an industrial scale, and has asked the IAEA for a report with an assessment of the situation.

"We take Iran's nuclear program seriously and would like to base [our assumptions] on facts and not on emotional political gestures, which have been frequent on various sides," Lavrov said.

"However, we cannot confirm as yet that practical [uranium] enrichment has started at new cascades [of centrifuges]," the minister said.

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