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  Tuesday, February 18, 2020
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Iran has said it is ready to continue negotiations with Russia
Iran has said it is ready to continue negotiations with Russia on a joint uranium-enrichment venture to end the current impasse around the Mideast country's nuclear program, a Russian diplomatic source said Monday. "The Iranian side has confirmed its readiness to continue talks with Moscow on establishing a joint venture to enrich uranium [in Russia] for Iran's energy needs," a spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Tehran said. The source said Iran had disavowed an earlier statement by Foreign Ministry official Hamid Reza Asefi, who said his country had discounted Russia's initiative and intended to carry out large-scale uranium enrichment at home. "The Russian proposal is not on the agenda any more," Asefi said Sunday. "Circumstances have changed. We must wait and see how the situation will develop [in the UN Security Council]." Russian nuclear agency head Sergei Kiriyenko said Monday that the Russian proposal to enrich uranium in Russia would remain on the table only if Iran met the demands of the UN's nuclear watchdog. "Iran's adherence to the demands put forward by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] is a necessary condition for the creation of a joint Russian-Iranian uranium enrichment venture," he said. The IAEA decided last week to refer the Iranian nuclear file to the UN Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions on Tehran if it is found to be in breach of its international commitments. Russia's initiative was widely seen as a compromise in the crisis surrounding the Islamic Republic, which many in the West suspect of pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program, a claim that Tehran has consistently rejected.
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