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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Putin hopes U.S. had no hidden agenda in Iran nuclear report

RIA Novosti

19/12/2007 18:55 MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin said he hoped there was no hidden agenda behind a recent report released by U.S. intelligence services saying there was no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, published on December 3, stated that Tehran had put a stop to its nuclear weapons program in 2003, although it continues to enrich uranium.

Speaking on December 12 in an interview with U.S. magazine Time, Putin said it is theoretically possible that the report was published to "divert Iran's attention from preparations for military action," which would be a "grave mistake."

"Assuming that the report was released to give an objective picture of events, this only goes to show that the Russian side, in formulating its foreign policy positions, is after all guided by objective data," he said.

"There are people in the U.S. administration who believe in telling the truth."

Asked why the report was released when it was, Putin advised the interviewer to put that question to U.S. intelligence services and the White House.

The report contradicted a previous U.S. intelligence assessment in 2005 which said that Iran was actively working to build a nuclear bomb.

After the findings were published, President Bush remained hawkish, saying: "Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the know-how to make a nuclear weapon."

When asked if military action remained a possibility, Bush said: "The best diplomacy - effective diplomacy - is one in which all options are on the table."

Russia, which has previously resisted international efforts to impose harsher sanctions against Tehran, has consistently held the line that there is no proof Iran is producing nuclear weapons.

Two sets of mild UN sanctions are in place against Iran. China has joined Russia in blocking the imposition of any new round of punitive measures against the Islamic Republic.

Time magazine has declared President Putin Person of the Year 2007 for bringing stability to his country and raising Russia's role on the global stage.

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