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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian senator urges Iran to cooperate with UN nuclear watchdog

RIA Novosti

12:52 01/12/2009 MOSCOW, December 1 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian senator has urged Iran to fully cooperate with the United Nations nuclear watchdog and to reconsider its plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities.

After the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution last Friday criticizing Iran for secretly building a second enrichment site, Iran hit back with an announcement of plans for 10 more enrichment facilities, and warned it could scale down cooperation with the agency if no compromise can be found.

Mikhail Margelov, the head of the international affairs committee in Russia's upper house, told RIA Novosti: "We must assume that Tehran's emotional decision to reject previous agreements [with the IAEA] will be reviewed or at least be eased."

He said Russia hopes that Iran will reconsider its rejection of a previous draft IAEA agreement under which Tehran was to send its low-enriched uranium to Russia or France for reprocessing.

Iran's government announced on Sunday the decision to build new enrichment facilities, calling it a necessary response to the IAEA's resolution. However, analysts have pointed out that the declaration is largely symbolic, as new facilities take years to plan and develop, and Iran faces major obstacles in realizing the plans in the face of UN sanctions.

Western powers have called for further sanctions against Iran since Tehran announced it would build the new facilities. Russia has consistently opposed sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, but President Dmitry Medvedev has said the country could support sanctions if Iran fails to allay Western doubts over the peaceful nature of the programme.

Margelov said Iran's announcement and the government's inconsistency in its actions have raised understandable concerns in the international community.

"Russia believes there is still more room for talks on the nuclear program, and that the Iran Six [the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany] should show more perseverance in finding a compromise," he said.

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