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Iran Says Russian Plan Insufficient

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, meets Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari in Moscow Monday, Jan. 23, 2006. Russia has close ties with Tehran and is building Iran's first nuclear power reactor, but has been moving closer to the Western position on Iran and is reluctant to let the issue cause a major rift in its relations with the United States and Europe. In his meeting with Safari, Lavrov stressed the common interests Russia and Iran share. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)
AP
Iran reiterated Friday that a plan to allow Iran to enrich its uranium in Russia was not acceptable in its present form but was worth pursuing in negotiations.

"The capacity of Russia's proposal does not meet all the nuclear energy needs of Iran," Irans top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Friday, according to state television.

Larijani was speaking to reporters on his return to Tehran from a trip to China, where he tried to mobilize support against Western moves to refer Iran's nuclear file to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

"It is not possible to say the Russian proposal is negative, and that is why we consider it as a basis for negotiations," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Larijani as saying.

Iran provoked an international outcry on Jan. 10 when it cut seals of the International Atomic Energy Agency at its main enrichment plant and resumed small-scale enrichment of uranium, a process that can be used to produce fuel for generating electricity or material for atomic bombs.

The three major European powers, with U.S. support, succeeded in getting the IAEA to meet on Feb. 2 to discuss taking action against Iran, which is expected to result in referral to the Security Council.

In the meantime Russia has revived a proposal under which Iran would ship its uranium to Russia, where it would be enriched and then returned to Iran for use in its nuclear reactor.

Iran's first reactor, built by Russia, is due to begin operations later this year.

After a visit to Russia earlier this week, Larijani said the Russian plan "has some ambiguities that should be removed," and that it would be discussed in talks in Moscow in February.

"The Russian offer is alive and will have long life," Larijani said on Wednesday, according to IRNA.

The United States accuses Iran of trying to develop atomic bombs under the cover of a peaceful nuclear program. Iran denies this, saying its program is entirely devoted to generating electricity.