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EU Says Iran Must Honor UN Nuclear Accords; Downplays Russia-Iran Nuclear Deal


Russia and Iran signed a nuclear fuel agreement Sunday that is part of a plan to bring Iran's first nuclear reactor on line by mid-2006. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who held talks with EU officials in Luxembourg, defended the deal as being in line with international statutes.

"It's entirely within the resolution of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] - our cooperation with Iran on nuclear energy is under IAEA monitoring and there is nothing [needed] to convince to convince people in [of] its peaceful purposes," he said.

Luxembourg foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, also played down the any negative impact the nuclear agreement may present.

"We reiterated our position that the IAEA safeguards and the NPT protocols have to be respected," he said. "That's all, so that's clear. There is no negative influence. And I think the interest of Russia, and of the European Union, and of America are the same - on the same level."

EU members France, Britain and Germany have been holding talks with Iran to persuade it to drop its uranium enrichment program, which could be used for weapons.

The United States accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear energy program, though Tehran denies this. Washington has said it wants to give diplomacy a chance to work, but has also not ruled out other options.

Russian foreign minister Lavrov called on the United States to play, what he called, its positive role. However, he refused to explain what further actions he wants to see.

"We have repeatedly welcomed statements from Washington, including President Bush's statement, that the United States would like to see the Iranian problem solved peacefully and diplomatically," he said.

Meanwhile, key American lawmakers have said Washington has to take a harder line with Russia, in light of the nuclear fuel agreement with Tehran. Iran's nuclear program has been the focus of heavy attention on both sides of the Atlantic.