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Russia Calls on Iran to Answer Concerns About its Nuclear Program

  • Bill Gasperini

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is urging Iran to provide answers about its nuclear program in order to allay international concerns. He says Russia will continue seeking a diplomatic solution to the stand-off over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says the international community expects unequivocal answers from Iran about its nuclear program to questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency. On Saturday, the agency voted to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

In a speech at a security conference in Munich, Germany, Sergei Ivanov said he believes the dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions can be resolved diplomatically.

Russia has long been assisting Tehran in what both countries say is a peaceful quest to develop nuclear energy.

On Saturday, Russia backed the IAEA decision to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council.

However both Russia and China - two of the permanent members of the Security Council - continue to oppose sanctions, saying these are unlikely to pressure Iran into halting its nuclear program.

At the Munich conference, Ivanov said the IAEA should continue to monitor developments in Iran.

"Russia still believes that, as long as possible, it is better to keep the matter in the agency's hands, I mean International Atomic Agency hands," he said.

Ivanov went on to say tougher action might lead Iran to expel IAEA inspectors from the country, something he says would be counter-productive.

He repeated Moscow's offer to enrich Iranian uranium in Russia to prevent it from being converted for weapons use.

Ivanov said that offer is still open. Iranian officials are due to come to Moscow on February 16 for more talks on the proposal, and, on Sunday, Iran suggested it was still open to those talks.

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