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Russia Calls on Iran to Act Responsibly With Nuclear Program


Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has called on Iran to act responsibly to help end an international dispute over its nuclear program.

Russian media quote Mr. Medvedev as saying Iran should conduct its nuclear activities in a transparent manner. He also warned of a humanitarian disaster if, in his words, "something very serious happens." He did not elaborate.

Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has not ruled out supporting new sanctions against Iran. Moscow says any such sanctions must be aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons rather than punishing Iran as a whole.

Western nations accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program - a charge Tehran denies.

Iran has refused to accept a U.N.-backed offer to ship most of its enriched uranium to Russia and France for further processing into fuel. Western nations believe the measure would prevent Iran from diverting the uranium for military use.

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Thursday Iran is interested in an offer by Japan to enrich uranium on Iran's behalf. He was speaking on a visit to Tokyo after meetings with senior Japanese officials.

Japan's Nikkei Business Daily says Tokyo made the offer to Iran in December, but the Japanese government has not confirmed the report.

In another development, senior Israeli officials were in Beijing Thursday for talks aimed at persuading China to support new sanctions against Iran. Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence.

China imports much of its energy from Iran and has been opposed to new sanctions, saying there is still room for dialogue to resolve the nuclear dispute.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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