Russia possesses information indicating that Iran is continuing to develop its nuclear technology, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.
"The information that is being received comes both from open sources and from special services that deliver relevant reports and shows that these [nuclear] programs are being developed," Medvedev said during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Russian Urals city of Yekaterinburg.
"Iran should have enough courage to begin full-fledged cooperation with the international community, even if it does not like some questions that are being asked," the Russian president went on.
International pressure on Iran increased in early February when Tehran announced it had begun enriching uranium to 20%, ignoring a proposed swap agreement that would provide it with fuel for a research reactor.
Westerns powers suspect Iran of attempting to build nuclear weapons under the guise of civilian nuclear generation.
On June 9, the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, including tougher financial controls and an expanded arms embargo.
During a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday, the Russian and Iranian energy ministers, Sergei Shmatko and Masud Mir-Kazemi, pledged that the sanctions would not affect Russian-Iranian cooperation.
The ministers approved a "roadmap" for oil and gas projects, including a possibility of establishing a joint bank to finance those projects and work out mechanisms to use national currencies. Shmatko said Russian companies were ready to supply oil products to Iran.
Medvedev said on Thursday that Iran was an "active" trade partner.
"This, however, does not mean that we are indifferent to how Iran is developing its nuclear program, as well as... how military components of the program look like," the president said, adding that Russia was expecting "relevant explanations from Iran."
Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has long opposed sanctions against the Islamic Republic, saying that the issue should be resolved through diplomatic means. However, Moscow finally approved the sanctions after Iran failed to prove the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities.
Medvedev said Iran's nuclear program was "an issue of national pride for Iranians," which, however, was also being "actively exploited by Iranian authorities in order to achieve their own political goals."
YEKATERINBURG, July 15 (RIA Novosti)