Iran, Russia claim nuclear breakthrough

2011-08-17 19:21

Moscow - Russia and Iran on Wednesday said a new Russian plan had a real chance of solving the stand-off over the Iranian nuclear drive, despite the failure of past initiatives to end a decade of deadlock.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi in Moscow to discuss the details of a "step-by-step" plan that rewards Tehran for greater transparency with a gradual easing of UN sanctions.

Salehi described the plan as a "first step" towards solving the crisis while Lavrov expressed the hope it would accelerate progress to a solution which has come to a virtual halt in recent months.

The rare visit to Moscow by Iran's top diplomat came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev and gave his blessing to the new approach.

"The Russian proposal has good elements. It is very important," Salehi told reporters after talks with Lavrov.

"We will study all the details of this proposal. It is positive," he said, adding it would now be analysed by "experts" in Tehran. "If one is starting on a long journey, one has to take the first step," the Iranian foreign minister said.

Lavrov said he hoped the plan would give a push towards reviving currently frozen talks between Iran and world powers and "will allow us to move forward quicker than was the case until now".

"We expect that these topics [set out in the steps plan] will help us to move to an active phase of further work to ultimately solve this question," Lavrov said.

Little steps

Lavrov first presented Russia's new approach during a July meeting in Washington with US President Barack Obama.

The novelty of the plan is that each time Iran is able to build confidence with the UN nuclear agency it will be rewarded with a step-by-step removal of the UN sanctions imposed against it over the last years.

Crucially, Lavrov said that the Russian plan was "completely accepted" by the five other world powers involved in the attempts to find a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear drive.

A Russian foreign ministry source told the Kommersant business daily that while the idea has been supported by Western powers, US officials in private would much prefer putting additional pressure through stronger sanctions.

World powers fear that Iran wants to develop a nuclear bomb under the cover of a civilian nuclear energy programme and have for years sought to persuade Iran to renounce the key process of uranium enrichment as proof of its goodwill.

Iran has insisted it has every right to uranium enrichment while emphasising that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

According to Russian media, the new plan does not directly tackle the enrichment issue.

Salehi later told Iran's ISNA news agency that Tehran agreed with the "spirit and principles of the plan", adding that a "new page" had opened in relations with Moscow.

Historic enemy

Iran's interest in the plan appears to mark an improvement in Tehran-Moscow relations which hit a post-Soviet low last year when Ahmadinejad warned that Russia risked becoming a "historic enemy" of the country.

Ahmadinejad has been infuriated by Russia's refusal to fulfil a contract to deliver air defence weapons and President Dmitry Medvedev's tougher line against the Iranian nuclear drive, which pleased Washington.

A bilateral meeting between the two presidents on the sidelines of a summit in the Kazakh capital Astana earlier this year now appears to have warmed the atmosphere.

However there have been numerous initiatives aimed at ending the stand-off since the revelation of secret nuclear sites in Iran by an exiled opposition group first sparked the crisis in 2002.

Iran showed little interest in a 2008 offer drawn up by the EU that would have provided extensive Western help for its nuclear programme while claims a Brazilian-Turkish initiative had solved the crisis in 2010 proved premature.

  • Jaimo - 2011-08-17 19:41

    Amazing to think that this unholy alliance between Russia (Magog) and Iran (Persia) is prophesied in the Bible to be strengthening in the end-times and will lead up to horrific divine judgement!!

      Messenger - 2011-08-17 21:33

      Spot-on, and Russia recently announced that they have plans to use some of their oil money to increase the size and strength of their army. Interesting developments that are starting to set the stage for the grand finale.

      slg - 2011-08-18 05:15

      There are no end-times. That's all done and dusted now. We're creating a new world, and thugs like the Iranian regime have no place in it.

      kubs - 2011-08-18 08:06

      Sure ..the bible also prophesised that gays will have no place in the world..but look at George Michael...he had about 5 number songs..more proof that the bible is

      Messenger - 2011-08-18 10:22

      So kubs, what do you believe in?

  • meelo - 2011-08-18 06:09

    Jaimo please quote

      Jaimo - 2011-08-18 08:21

      Quote: EZEKIEL cht. 39 (Russia,Persia and Turkey +other smaller states) Interesting v4 speaks of 'hooks in the mouth' to bring Russia and alliance against Israel: could be the fact that Israel has struck a massive gas and oil field - this will infuriate Russia because it will affect its monopoly supply of gas to Europe! - - Then v18!

      daaivark - 2011-08-18 08:38

      HA HA HA HA HA. Jeez this is actually hysterically funny. Surely you don't actually believe this stuff?

      Komasa - 2011-08-18 08:49

      @Jaimo are you quoting from the revised fascists version of the Bible.

      Messenger - 2011-08-18 09:45

      Daaivark, yes, we do.

  • whity - 2011-08-18 08:09

    @slg, and i am sure you believe the rougue state of israel has a right to exist. u must be a jew lover?

      j4truth - 2011-08-18 08:30

      Heh Whity! You need to read your Bible! Get some LIGHT

      slg - 2011-08-18 08:39

      And you must be a racist bigot. No? How does it feel?

  • whity - 2011-08-18 09:50

    @j4truth, your man written bible wont help you. Read the truth...

      Messenger - 2011-08-18 10:25

      Written by men inspired by God.

  • whity - 2011-08-18 09:51

    @slg i am not a bigot. the truth really hurts you, dont it? lol

  • whity - 2011-08-18 10:28

    @messenger, written by men who think they are god

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