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Russia hopes a visit by the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog will help solve the long-running dispute over Iran's controversial nuclear program
Russia hopes a visit by the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog will help solve the long-running dispute over Iran's controversial nuclear program, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammed ElBaradei is slated to visit Iran April 12-13, and to report to the UN Security Council on the country's compliance with its international nuclear non-proliferation commitments by the end of April. "We hope Iran will take maximum advantage of the coming visit to clarify remaining issues related to its activities in the nuclear sphere," the Foreign Ministry said. The UN Security Council, which has the power to impose punitive measures on countries found to be in breach of their international obligations, issued a resolution March 29 urging Iran to re-impose a moratorium on uranium enrichment, which some European countries and the United States fear Iran could use to build weapons, and gave ElBaradei a month to prepare a report. The March 29 resolution was milder than expected due to opposition to sanctions from Russia and China, two veto-wielding permanent Security Council members with business interests in the country. China is a major consumer of Iranian oil and Russia is helping Iran build an $800-million nuclear power plant. Russia also has mediated in the dispute and has proposed enriching uranium for Iranian power plants on Russian soil. The move, backed by the global community, was rejected by Iran, which however says it is still on the negotiating table. The ministry said the visit was a "positive signal" from Iran, which thereby showed its willingness to cooperate with the agency and resolve the problem. It also praised the IAEA's role as the only international body capable of determining countries' compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Tehran has repeatedly denied Western accusations that it plans to build nuclear weapons and insisted on its right to develop civilian nuclear technology under the NPT.
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