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Seyyed Ali Hosseini-Tash:"Russia and Iran trust each other, and there is no place for deception in relations between the two countries"
The head of an Iranian delegation due to arrive in Moscow Monday for crucial talks on the country's controversial nuclear programs has said that Iran and Russia could reach an agreement on a joint uranium enrichment venture in Russia. "Russia and Iran trust each other, and there is no place for deception in relations between the two countries," said Seyyed Ali Hosseini-Tash, the deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. "Accordingly, there are grounds for the parties at the talks to reach an agreement." The mooted deal is seen as a potential compromise in the crisis around the nuclear programs of the Islamic Republic, which some countries suspect of pursuing a covert weapons program. Although Tehran has consistently said it only wants nuclear power for peaceful purposes, the United States and other nations have concerns, as enriched uranium is a vital component for an atomic bomb. Russia and Iran will discuss the Russian initiative of creating a joint uranium enrichment venture in Russia, with the possible participation of other countries. The stand of the Iranian delegation will decide the future of Iran's "nuclear file", which a trio of European nations involved in talks with Tehran - France, the United Kingdom and Germany - the board of governors of the UN's nuclear watchdog, and the U.S. want to refer to the UN Security Council. The body has the power to impose sanctions, if Tehran is found to be in breach of its international commitments. The Iranian negotiator said that regardless of Russia's support for the recent decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board to inform the UN Security Council over Iran's "nuclear problem," Russia had not changed its position on the issue. "Russia's position during the February meeting of the IAEA fell short of our expectations," he said. "Since then, we have conducted an honest and direct dialogue during which the Russians explained their position." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has indicated that sanctions will fail to solve the problem. The emergency session of the IAEA board in early February showed that its approach to Iran's position on uranium enrichment and a full nuclear cycle had become noticeably tougher. The board approved a resolution binding IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to inform the UN Security Council about Iran's nuclear program and position on cooperation, and about IAEA's actions. The majority of the governors (27 out of 35) voted for the resolution, including Russia and China, who as permanent members of the UN Security Council hold vetoes and could potentially block the imposition of sanctions. Last week Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the international affairs committee in the lower chamber of Russia's parliament, said after a meeting with Iran's ambassador in Moscow that the latter had answered the questions of principal concern to Russia, and reiterated that the Islamic Republic was prepared to cooperate fully with the IAEA. "Iran understands that the situation is very serious, and is ready to continue political dialogue, as well as an expert-level dialogue in search of solutions to the dispute," the lawmaker said. Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari said the Iranian delegation was making thorough preparations for the talks in Moscow, and that it would have the authority to conduct talks on Russia's proposal to set up a joint venture to enrich uranium on Russian territory for nuclear power plants in the Islamic Republic. Russia is currently building an $800-million plant near the port city of Bushehr in the south of the country. Originally, the talks were to take place February 16, but were postponed by Tehran until February 20. Officials in Moscow have refused to comment on the possible outcome of the talks. But many of them consider they will be Iran's last chance to accept the Russian offer and so prevent the IAEA from sending its dossier to the UN Security Council. On Sunday, Iranian foreign minister Manushehr Mottaki said Iran would consider Russia's offer as corresponding to Iran's national interests if the Russian initiative were improved during the negotiations to become a comprehensive plan.
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