MOSCOW,(Reuters) – Another round of talks between Russia and Iran aimed at finding a way out of the stand-off over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will start on Wednesday, Russia said on Tuesday.
Moscow has proposed setting up a joint venture to enrich uranium on Russian territory to ease Western fears that Iran could use the fuel for atomic bombs, as well as for its civilian nuclear energy programme.
Negotiations in Iran last week ended in a “basic” agreement on the project, but Russian officials were later quoted as saying Iran had so far made no commitment to give up enrichment at home as demanded by both Russia and major Western powers.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Iranian delegation would this time be headed by the Islamic Republic’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, which would give the talks a higher profile than the previous Moscow round, which took place early last week before the talks in Iran.
A key report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, circulated to its board members before they meet on March 6, concluded Iran was forging ahead with its nuclear fuel enrichment programme in defiance of world pressure.
This report will be forwarded to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions. Russia, a permanent Council member with the power of veto, says sanctions would achieve nothing.
Iran denies seeking nuclear arms, saying its atomic energy programme aims solely to generate electricity. But it hid nuclear fuel development from the IAEA for 18 years until 2003 and calls for Israel’s destruction, stoking Western suspicions.