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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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Russia Warns Against Iran Strike; Tehran Proposes Talks

By VOA News
11 September 2009

Russia has warned that the use of force will not put an end to Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made the comments Friday during a meeting with foreign policy experts, saying a possible military strike against Iran could cause additional problems for the region.

The Russian prime minister's warning comes days after the Israeli media reported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a secret trip to Russia earlier this week to discuss Moscow's arms deals with Iran.

The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of working to produce a nuclear weapon. Israel's government has refused to rule out use of a military strike to prevent Iran from gaining that capability.

Iran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes and, earlier this week, proposed "comprehensive" negotiations with the West.

The investigative Web site ProPublica published Iran's proposal on comprehensive talks Thursday. Iran had distributed the proposal to foreign diplomats in Tehran Wednesday but it had not been released to the public.

Among other things, the document calls for an end to hostilities with the West and for talks on issues such as drug trafficking, security in the Middle East and nuclear proliferation. But the proposal does not mention anything about Iran's own nuclear program.

Iran's envoy to the United Nations nuclear agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh described the proposal Thursday during a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. But he added any talks with world powers will not include Iran's nuclear program.

In Washington Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the Iranian proposal for talks "is not really responsive" to concerns about Tehran's nuclear intentions. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Iranian package contains "something to work with."

The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons or fuel for nuclear reactors.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.



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