A general view of Iran’s uranium enrichment complex in Natanz. Russia has ruled out talk of sanctions against Iran without proof that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons as alleged by the United States, and vowed to continue military cooperation with the Islamic republic.
AFP: Russia rejects US call to stop Iran nuclear project
Russia has angrily rejected a demand by the United States for Moscow to halt construction of a nuclear power plant in Iran, magnifying an East-West split over how to respond to Tehran’s nuclear programme.
“Every country has the right to decide itself with whom and how it cooperates,” the foreign ministry said Thursday.
Earlier, the head of Russia’s Rosatom nuclear agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, also defended the project to build Iran’s first nuclear power station at Bushehr, saying it did “not threaten the (nuclear) non-proliferation regime”.
Moscow was replying to a demand on Wednesday by US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns for “countries to stop cooperation with Iran on nuclear issues, even on civilian nuclear issues like the Bushehr facility”.
The public row undermines attempts by Western powers and Russia to show a united front in the face of Iran, which is suspected in Western capitals, especially Washington, of using a civilian nuclear programme to hide a secret bomb project.
An Iranian delegation was in Moscow for a second day for secretive talks against a background of rising international tensions and record high oil prices of more than 74.2 dollars in London.
The Iranian delegation included Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghshi and Javad Vaidi, deputy secretary of the National Security Council, but there was no information about which Russian officials were taking part, ITAR-TASS news agency reported.
Late on Wednesday the Iranians held a surprise meeting with senior diplomats from Britain, France and Germany. They struck a defiant pose, announcing that Tehran intended to accelerate its uranium enrichment programme.
Sky News: Iran: ‘We’ll Cooperate On Nuclear Plan’
Iran is backing away from confrontation with the West and will cooperate over its nuclear plans, according to a Tehran envoy. “Iran intends to continue cooperation with the IAEA,” said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Tehran’s chief representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Mr Soltanieh told a conference in Moscow: “We are ready to eliminate all the ambiguities with regard to our nuclear file.”
Delegates at the conference were unimpressed.
"We've heard all this before," said one European official.
"We'll await (IAEA chief Mohamed) ElBaradei's report. We'll make our judgment then on what the next move is."
The report is due on April 28.
USA Today: Brazil follows Iran's nuclear path, but without the fuss
As Iran faces international pressure over developing the raw material for nuclear weapons, Brazil is quietly preparing to open its own uranium-enrichment center, capable of producing exactly the same fuel.
Brazil â€” like Iran â€” has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and Brazil's constitution bans the military use of nuclear energy.
Also like Iran, Brazil has cloaked key aspects of its nuclear technology in secrecy while insisting the program is for peaceful purposes, claims nuclear weapons experts have debunked.
While Brazil is more cooperative than Iran on international inspections, some worry its new enrichment capability â€” which eventually will create more fuel than is needed for its two nuclear plants â€” suggests that South America's biggest nation may be rethinking its commitment to non-proliferation.
"Brazil is following a path very similar to Iran, but Iran is getting all the attention," said Marshall Eakin, a Brazil expert at Vanderbilt University. "In effect, Brazil is benefiting from Iran's problems."
AFP: Senior UN nuclear inspector puts off trip to Iran
A senior UN nuclear inspector put off a trip to Iran in what diplomats said was a clear sign that Tehran is failing to give the UN atomic agency key concessions it demands.
The development comes as the UN Security Council waits to see if Iran honors an April 28 deadline for it to halt uranium enrichment that could be weapons-related and to cooperate fully with inspectors from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
AFP: Iran still years away from having nukes: US intelligence chief
US intelligence chief John Negroponte said Iran's resumption of uranium enrichment is "troublesome" but the country is still years away from having enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon.
Negroponte expressed concern both about Iran's claim to have resumed uranium enrichment with a cascade of 164 centrifuges in Natanz and extreme statements made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"The developments in Iran -- clearly they're troublesome," he said in response to questions after a speech to the National Press Club.
"By the same token, our assessment at the moment is that even though we believe that Iran is determined to acquire or obtain a nuclear weapon, that we believe that it is still a number of years off before they are likely to have enough fissile material to assemble into, or to put into a nuclear weapon; perhaps into the next decade," he said.
"So I think it's important that this issue be kept in perspective," he said.
Guardian Unlimited: The tragedy that followed Hillary Clinton's bombing of Iran in 2009
In retaliation, suicide bombers trained by Tehran massacred civilians in Tel Aviv, London and New York
May 7 2009 will surely go down in history alongside September 11 2001. "5/7", as it inevitably became known, saw massive suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, London and New York, as well as simultaneous attacks on the remaining western troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Total casualties were estimated at around 10,000 dead and many more wounded. The attacks, which included the explosion of a so-called dirty bomb in London, were orchestrated by a Tehran-based organisation for "martyrdom-seeking operations" established in 2004. "5/7" was the Islamic Republic of Iran's response to the bombing of its nuclear facilities, which President Hillary Clinton had ordered in March 2009.
Reuters: Russia says no Iran sanctions without proof: reportÂ
Russia would approve sanctions on Iran only if it saw hard evidence that Tehran's nuclear program was not peaceful, Itar-Tass news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying on Friday.
The United States and some other major powers believe Iran may be building a nuclear bomb. But they say evidence that Iran is not complying with the United Nations nuclear watchdog is enough on its own to justify sanctions.
Russia -- a U.N. Security Council veto-holder -- has said it is not convinced that sanctions would persuade Iran to abandon uranium enrichment. But Moscow has not before been explicit about what evidence it would need to consider sanctions.
"We will only be able to talk about sanctions after we have concrete facts confirming that Iran is not exclusively involved in peaceful nuclear activities," Tass quoted spokesman Mikhail Kamynin as saying.
A Russian national security official said separately that sanctions did not figure on Russia's agenda at this stage.
The international community awaits the April 28th deadline as set by the United Nations Security Council.
However, it is clear that Iran will NOT stop uranium enrichment and Russia and China WILL NOT support sanctions.
Will the Europeans and the United States have the political will to sanction Iran now or will they wait until the future?
Iran Nuclear Watch Briefings
The Iran Nuclear Watch Files
Technorati Tags: Iran