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Moscow says nuclear ties with Iran to continue despite sanctions

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Russia's nuclear chief said Friday possible new sanctions against Tehran over its controversial nuclear program will not affect Russian-Iranian cooperation in the nuclear sphere.

MOSCOW, May 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's nuclear chief said Friday possible new sanctions against Tehran over its controversial nuclear program will not affect Russian-Iranian cooperation in the nuclear sphere.

Since Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, the country has been the focus of international concerns, as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program. But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.

"The cooperation we currently enjoy has nothing to do with the UN Security Council's requirements," Sergei Kiriyenko said.

He said the construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr in the south of Iran does not in any way violate the non-proliferation regime and is not a political but a purely commercial project.

On Wednesday, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), presented a report that said Iran has continued to ignore the demands of the UN Security Council to halt its uranium enrichment and has continued working on nuclear projects.

The report could trigger a new wave of sanctions against Iran, which will be the third since penalties were first introduced against it in December 2006.

A senior Russian MP said sanctions against Iran are only possible if there is conclusive evidence that it pursues a military nuclear program, but even then they must not involve the use of force.

"Any decisions [with respect to Iran] will only be possible after experts study the [ElBaradei] report," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee.

The Iranian president said earlier Friday Tehran will not yield to international pressure and abandon its right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, adding that UN sanctions against Iran "have brought no result."

"There is no doubt that these sanctions will boomerang on the arrogant powers, as we will soon be able to see," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.

He said Tehran will ignore any new resolutions against it that the UN Security Council may pass in the future.

On April 19, Ahmadinejad said that Iran had mastered industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel, giving up a research-level program. Recent reports said Tehran was already running 1,600 uranium enrichment centrifuges in its Natanz underground complex.

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