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Russia: Moscow Says IAEA Statement Clears Way For Nuclear Cooperation With Iran

Moscow, 21 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's Foreign Ministry said today that the failure of the UN's nuclear agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to condemn Iran has cleared the way for Russia to help Iran build a nuclear-power plant. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said since the IAEA did not condemn Iran for its development of a nuclear-energy program there was no reason for Russia to end its cooperation with Iran.

Russia is helping Iran build its Bushehr nuclear-power plant, drawing protests from the U.S. which says Iran is seeking to builds nuclear weapons. Iran denies that.

Yakovenko said that Russia is calling on Iran to show full transparency in its nuclear development program and to sign the Additional Protocol that the IAEA has requested to permit spot checks of facilities. Iran has refused to sign the protocol.

Meanwhile, IAEA Director-General Mohammad el-Baradei says he is confident Iran will work with the UN to answer questions regarding its nuclear program.

El-Baradei, speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan, told the Reuters news agency he expects Tehran will recognize that it is in its best interest to be cooperative and transparent.

The IAEA reprimanded Iran two days ago for repeatedly failing to report nuclear material, facilities, and activities as required under its safeguards agreement with the agency.

The United States has accused Iran of secretly working to develop a nuclear-weapons capability. Tehran denies the allegation.