August 2, 2005

Russia will help Iran despite nuclear moves

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will maintain support for Iran's
nuclear program despite Tehran's decision to restart the
enrichment of uranium, Russian news agencies quoted sources in
Russia's atomic agency, Rosatom, as saying on Tuesday.

"We always stressed Iran's right to develop its nuclear
fuel cycle, though we at the same time urge countries not
possessing the cycle to refrain from developing it," Interfax
and RIA Novosti agencies quoted a Rosatom source as saying.

A spokesman for Rosatom did not comment on the specific
situation, but repeated Russia's position that Iran has a right
to the peaceful use of atomic energy.

He said the latest moves, which have sparked a crisis that
could go to the United Nations Security Council, did not
undermine that.

Russia is building a nuclear power station for Iran at
Bushehr on the Gulf, despite Washington's concern that Tehran
could use Russian know-how to build an atomic bomb.

Britain, France and Germany have been trying to broker a
deal that would give Iran nuclear, political and economic
incentives to halt its enrichment activities.

But Iran has now said it is impatient with the talks, and
wants to restart nuclear fuel work -- prompting the European
powers to move closer to the U.S. view that Iran should be
referred to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

The EU trio told Iran on Tuesday that a resumption of its
nuclear activities would end negotiations on the nuclear issue
and it would have to pursue "other courses of action."

A spokesman for Rosatom said only a U.N. resolution or a
decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could
provide the legal basis for Russia to break its contracts and
stop working with Iran.

"It goes without saying that we would fulfill those,"
Nikolai Shingaryov said.

Russia sees Iran as a key market for its atomic technology,
and has previously said it is keen to expand their partnership
with more lucrative power stations.