Political dialogue on Iran still possible - Russian official

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Political dialogue on Iran's controversial nuclear program is still possible, Russia's Security Council secretary said Tuesday.

MOSCOW, October 31 (RIA Novosti) - Political dialogue on Iran's controversial nuclear program is still possible, Russia's Security Council secretary said Tuesday.

Iran, which announced last week that it has launched a second cascade of gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, may face sanctions for failing to comply with the UN Security Council's demand that it suspend enrichment.

But reiterating Russia's position in the long-running dispute, Igor Ivanov said: "We have not yet used all opportunities to hold political dialogue on this problem."

Asked at a news conference if Russia has satellite intelligence indicating military nuclear activities in Iran, Ivanov said: "Russia has no data showing that Iran is pursuing non-peaceful nuclear programs."

The five permanent Security Council members are studying a draft resolution on Iran proposed by Britain, Germany, and France - the so-called EU-3 - which envisions a set of punitive measures against Tehran, but allows Moscow to continue its $1-billion nuclear power plant project in the country.

Russia and China, veto-wielding Security Council members with strong business interests in Iran, have consistently opposed sanctions; the two countries have not yet given their formal response to the document, but have insisted on the need for a diplomatic solution.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said late last week, "I believe the proposed draft resolution does not meet the objectives set out by the Iran-6 [the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany]."

Igor Ivanov also said that problems surrounding the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, which is already under UN sanctions following a nuclear bomb test on October 9, should not hold back the development of nuclear power in other countries.

He said other countries, in close cooperation with the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, "have the right to implement their energy plans, including in nuclear power."

"Any decisions adopted in the UN Security Council must be aimed at not punishing Iran, but at ensuring the declared objective of giving Iran the opportunity to use its right to peaceful nuclear programs, and giving the international community guarantees that Iran will not obtain nuclear weapons," Ivanov said.

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