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Russia wants clear reply from Iran on N-offer

Moscow had proposed that it would undertake uranium enrichment on Tehran's behalf.
None | By Agence France-Presse, Moscow
PUBLISHED ON MAR 28, 2006 05:45 PM IST

Russia's defence minister on Tuesday called for an "unambiguous" reply from Iran on a uranium enrichment offer designed to help resolve the international standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Moscow's proposal -- under which it would undertake enrichment on Tehran's behalf -- is aimed at reassuring world powers who fear that if Iran is allowed to carry out the fuel cycle work itself, it will divert the technology for a weapons programme.

Russia's call came as foreign ministers of the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany prepare to meet Thursday in Berlin to discuss the crisis.

"Iran must give an unambiguous agreement or refusal to this offer so that all the worries in the international community are resolved," Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said.

Iran's embassy in Moscow however reiterated earlier rejections, saying in a statement that Iran "cannot make itself dependent on international suppliers."

Nevertheless, "Iran welcomes the creation of an international centre for supplying nuclear fuel with the participation of other countries in the framework of an international consortium on its own territory," it added.

Enriched uranium can be the fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but also the explosive core of an atom bomb.

UN Security Council members held informal talks on Monday on the nuclear crisis but again failed to break the impasse over a draft statement demanding a halt to Iranian uranium enrichment activities.

They were expected to meet again later on Tuesday.

The Security Council has been trying in vain for the past two weeks to reach agreement on a Franco-British statement, backed by Washington, that calls on Iran to honour its international nuclear commitments.

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