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Clinton Says Agrees With Russia On Iran Steps

President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Barvikha on October 13.
BERLIN (Reuters) -- The United States and Russia agree they must consider further steps against Iran if they are unable to reach a diplomatic solution to its nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a newspaper.

Clinton failed to win specific pledges from Moscow for tougher sanctions against Iran during a visit to Russia last week, but she said in the interview that there was broad agreement with the Kremlin on how to proceed.

"We have agreed to make diplomacy the priority with Iran. But if we are not successful, we will consider other steps," Clinton said in the interview, which was conducted by the Russian edition of "Newsweek" and appeared in the German daily "Die Welt."

She described her talks with Russian leaders as "very constructive" and said the two countries were in "full agreement" on the way forward.

Clinton also said it was positive that Russia had not followed through on plans to deliver high-grade S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran.

"Until now they have not delivered any rocket systems to Iran. We see this as a good sign," she was quoted as saying.

Her comments were translated from the German by Reuters because "Die Welt" was not immediately able to provide an English transcript.

Clinton also reiterated that Washington was ready to cooperate with Moscow on missile defense after U.S. President Barack Obama scrapped his predecessor George W. Bush's plan to put parts of an antimissile system in eastern Europe.

"On the question of the missile shield, we are very open to cooperation with the Russians. We have made this clear to them. We believe that a joint missile defense would make sense," Clinton said.

Tehran Vows Enrichment Will Continue

Iran will further enrich uranium itself if nuclear talks fail with the UN watchdog, Russia, France, and the United States in Vienna on October 19.

"If the talks do not bring about Iran's desired result...we will start to further enrich uranium ourselves," Ali Shirzadian, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told Iran's official IRNA news agency.

The UN nuclear watchdog will host the meeting to discuss details of sending Iran's low enriched uranium abroad for further processing and return to Tehran.

The issue was agreed "in principle" between Iran and world powers in Geneva on October 1. But Iranian authorities have so far shown no public hints of flexibility over Iran's nuclear row with the West.

The UN Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to stop its sensitive enrichment work.

Shirzadian said Iran had no intention of suspending its enrichment.

"Buying nuclear fuel from abroad does not mean Iran will stop its uranium-enrichment activities inside the country," Shirzadian said.

The West fears Iran's nuclear program is a front to obtain a bomb. Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate power.