Sergei Lavrov (file photo) (epa)
November 2, 2006 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called on the international community to negotiate with Iran, and not isolate the country with sanctions, to settle the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program.
Lavrov told journalists in Moscow that the Russian government cannot support a European Union-proposed draft resolution that would impose UN Security Council sanctions to punish Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.
"We cannot support those measures which in fact aim to isolate Iran from the outside world, including the isolation of the people who are charged with leading negotiations on the nuclear program," Lavrov said. "We already have set forth strong conditions, and it's negotiations which we want. There's no need to make a new resolution on the Iranian nuclear issue.''
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States remained optimistic that Russia will eventually support a UN sanctions resolution.
Asked about Lavrov's comment that Russia does not support the current draft resolution, McCormack said it suggested that Moscow may want to make "some changes" to the draft.
Click on the map to view the locations of Russia's civilian nuclear power plants.
POWER OF THE ATOM: As Russia's economy recovers from the collapse of the 1990s, the government is moving forward with plans to expand its nuclear-energy sector. Russia currently has 31 civilian nuclear-power reactors in operation, with the newest being Kalinin-3, which came on line in 2004. Nuclear power accounts for 16 percent of Russia's total power generation. Three additional reactors are currently under construction.
Many of Russia's reactors are quite old. In 2000, the government announced plans to extend the working lifetime of 12 first-generation reactors. So far, seven of these reactors have been upgraded for 15-year extensions and all 12 of them are expected to be replaced by 2020.
Russia controls about 4 percent of the world's known uranium deposits, producing some 2,900 tons of uranium in 2002. Russia has four operating uranium-enrichment plants, the largest of which is located at Novouralsk near Yekaterinburg.
The government has not yet approved a proposal for a permanent nuclear-waste storage facility on the Kola Peninsula.