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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN discussions on Iran should not stop uranium swap deal - Lavrov

RIA Novosti


ROME, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that UN Security Council talks on new sanctions against Iran should not hamper the implementation of an uranium swap agreement signed by Iran, Brazil, and Turkey.

"We are in favor of Iran filing a request to the International Atomic Energy Agency as soon as possible... This should not be hampered by discussions in the UN Security Council," Lavrov said during a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini in Rome.

"We will treat the position which other UN Security Council members take in discussions over a new resolution [on sanctions against Iran] with the utmost respect," the Russian foreign minister added.

The Iran Six, which comprises France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Russia and China, began discussing on April 19 the text of a draft resolution to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic, which is accused by Western powers of attempting to build nuclear weapons under the guise of peaceful energy generation.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the U.S., Russia and China had reached an agreement over the resolution.

Moscow and Beijing have long opposed U.S.-backed sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its controversial nuclear activities, insisting that the issue should be resolved by diplomatic means.

Clinton's announcement came on Tuesday, a day after the Iranian, Brazilian, and Turkish foreign ministers signed an agreement on the exchange of low-enriched uranium to fuel Tehran's scientific research reactor. An Iranian Foreign Ministry official representative said that Tehran had agreed to swap in Turkey most of its 3.5%-enriched uranium for 20%-enriched fuel.

The countries agreed that a letter be sent to the IAEA within one week to declare Iran is ready for the fuel exchange. After the letter is received by the IAEA, an agreement between Tehran and the agency must be drawn up and signed.

Frattini also called for Iran to prove to the IAEA the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

"We have discussed the Iran issue. We are convinced that Iran should formulate its proposal concerning enriching uranium in Turkey for the IAEA and express its readiness to negotiate on all aspects of its nuclear program," Frattini said.

The news conference in Rome followed the first Russian-Italian talks involving the two countries' foreign and defense ministers.

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