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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Moscow backs IAEA chief on Iranian nuclear program

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, September 8 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian foreign minister on Tuesday dismissed accusations that the director of the UN nuclear watchdog was holding back information on Iran's nuclear issue.

On Monday, the French Foreign Ministry said Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was concealing information relating to Iran's nuclear program.

"I was surprised to learn that some IAEA member countries accused the organization's director general, Mr. ElBaradei, of concealing some information about Iran's nuclear program from agency members," Sergei Lavrov said. "I consider such statements unacceptable."

He said Russia had received assurances from Tehran that it would soon respond to proposals from the Iran Six - a group of international mediators comprising the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany.

"We operate on the assumption that it is necessary to wait for this response, and then we will decide on further steps to take," Lavrov said.

ElBaradei said on Monday the organization had reached a "stalemate" with Iran over its nuclear program, although he acknowledged that Tehran had been more cooperative regarding activities at its main nuclear facility in Natanz and an IR-40 research reactor at Arak.

Western powers suspect Iran's uranium enrichment is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the allegation, saying its nuclear program is for electricity production only.

ElBaradei again urged the Islamic Republic to clarify all outstanding issues in the dispute over its nuclear program and implement the provisions of the Additional Protocol to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

In July, the G8 countries urged Tehran to discuss by September trade benefits that could be offered in exchange for abandoning nuclear enrichment, to avoid harsher sanctions.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday his country would continue to work in the framework of global regulations and in close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, but ruled out talks on Iran's nuclear plans with the Iran Six.

Western powers seek harsher sanctions against the Islamic Republic if it does not agree to halt uranium enrichment. Russia and China, however, insist on diplomatic steps.

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