Annan's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said that as a permanent, veto-holding member of the UN Security Council, Russia is making a vital contribution to bringing all sides to the negotiating table.
The Iran-Russia talks are due to open in Moscow on 20 February. Under Russia's proposal, Iranian civilian uranium enrichment would be carried out in Russia, allaying suspicions that Iran seeks to divert nuclear material to build atomic weapons.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton on 17 February said he doubted Tehran would accept the Russian offer and accused Iran of seeking to delay possible Security Council action over its nuclear program.
"As a general proposition, a delay benefits the Iranians in two respects," Bolton said. "First, it allows them to increase the sophistication and extent of their knowledge about enrichment activities. And second, it gives them time to make use of the oil weapon, which they have with a number of countries that have a high and growing demand [for oil]."
Iran denies any efforts to make nuclear arms, saying its nuclear program is for peaceful electricity generation only.
READOn 4 February, the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency approved in a 27-3 vote a resolution to report the matter of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council. The key section of the resolution is Section 1, which states that the Board of Governors:
Underlines that outstanding questions can best be resolved and confidence built in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's program by Iran responding positively to the calls for confidence-building measures which the Board has made on Iran, and in this context deems it necessary for Iran to:
- reestablish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and processing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the Agency;
- reconsider the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water;
- ratify promptly and implement in full Additional Protocol;
- pending ratification, continue to act in accordance with the provisions of the Additional Protocol with Iran signed on 18 December 2003;
- implement the transparency measures, as requested by the Director General, which extend beyond the former requirements of the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol, and include such access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual use equipment, certain military-owned workshops and research and development as the Agency may request in support of its ongoing investigations.
COMPLETE TEXT: To read the final resolution, with late-hour changes highlighted, click here.
THE COMPLETE PICTURE: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.
An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.