Sunday, March 12, 2006

Russia Lawmaker Criticizes Iran Over Enrichment

Dow Jones Newswires:

MOSCOW -- A senior Russian lawmaker Sunday harshly criticized Iran for its rejection of Moscow's proposal to host its uranium enrichment program, saying the move has destroyed the only chance for a compromise in the Iranian nuclear standoff, news reports said.

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the international affairs committee of the lower house of the Russian parliament, warned Tehran that its refusal to continue talks on the Russian offer could "radicalize" a planned discussion of the Iranian nuclear issue at the United Nations Security Council, the Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies reported.

Russia's offer to enrich uranium for Iran on its soil has been backed by the United States and the European Union as a way to provide closer international oversight of the Iranian nuclear program, but talks on the proposal have stalled.

Sunday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Tehran would no longer consider the Russian proposal.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said Moscow would react to Tehran's move after receiving a formal notice, Interfax said.

Russia has made its enrichment offer contingent on Tehran suspending its own enrichment effort, but Iranian officials have rejected the link.

Iran insists its program is only for generating electricity, but the U.S. claims Tehran has been working to build a bomb for more than a decade. The U.K. and France are also skeptical of the Iranians, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, says it has serious questions about Iran's program.


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