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Russia Signals Backing For Time-Out In Iran Nuclear Issue February 1, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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MOSCOW (AP)–Russia Thursday signaled that it backs a “time-out” proposed by the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency that calls for holding off on imposing U.N. sanctions if Tehran suspends uranium enrichment.

“We believe the initiative put forward by the IAEA head… suggesting that Iran suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for the U.N. Security Council’s reciprocal step regarding resolution 1737 deserves close attention,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, proposed the plan during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in an effort to end the standoff between the West and Iran over the Islamic republic’s suspect nuclear program.

Iran said Sunday that it needed time to review the plan.

The Security Council voted unanimously in December to impose limited sanctions on Iran after it ignored demands to halt enrichment. Russia supported limited sanctions after watering down initial proposed, punitive measures that would have imposed curbs on the Bushehr atomic energy plant, which Russia is helping Iran to build.

Iranian state-run radio said Sunday that Tehran wants Moscow to help mediate the standoff, saying Tehran’s leaders are looking to Russia for new proposals, such as enrichment of uranium on Russian soil.

The Kremlin proposed last year that Iran move its uranium enrichment work to Russian territory, where it could be better monitored to alleviate international suspicions.

Iranian leaders had said they were interested in the idea, but nothing ever came of it as oil-rich Iran insisted its nuclear project is intended only to produce radioactive fuel for reactors that would generate electricity.

Enrichment can produce material usable both as fuel for power-generating nuclear reactors and for atomic bombs.

The U.S. and its allies believe Tehran is secretly developing atomic weapons in violation of treaty commitments.

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