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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. to keep door open for talks with Iran - senior official

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, January 15 (RIA Novosti) - The United States will continue talking to Iran, but wants Moscow's cooperation in sending Tehran a signal that defiance of international demands will not go unpunished, a senior U.S. envoy has said.

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns was in Moscow on Thursday to discuss Iran and arms reduction with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

"The United States believes we should keep the door open to negotiations and involve Iran in cooperation," he said in an interview with Gazeta daily published in Russian.

"But we should also make it clear [to Iran] that a non-constructive response to creative proposals put forward by the international community will not have but consequences," he went on.

The UN nuclear regulator, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), had arranged a plan under which Russia would lead a consortium that would enrich uranium for the Tehran Research Center.

Iran rejected that proposal, under which it would have shipped low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for a more highly enriched version.

The Iran Six, comprising Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, have been trying to persuade Tehran to halt uranium enrichment it says it needs for electricity generation for economic and diplomatic incentives. Iran Six envoys last met in Geneva on October 1.

Burns also urged the United States, Russia and other partners to give Tehran a tough signal saying they were seeking a diplomatic way out, but were also quite firm in their intention to make Iran honor its commitments, Gazeta said.

When asked if new sanctions against Iran would harm Russian investments, especially in the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Burns declined to respond, saying that his "Russian colleagues should talk about Russia's position in regard to Iran" and not the United States.

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