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Russia brushes aside critics of Iran nuclear support

October 16, 2005

Russia brushes aside critics of Iran nuclear support

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Condoleezza Rice on Sunday said she was flattered by speculation she could be the next U.S. president but stressed she had no interest in a White House run.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday brushed aside criticism of Moscow's support for Iran's nuclear energy programme, saying Russia will bow to no country. 

"Iran, like any other country, has the full right to develop its peaceful nuclear energy," Lavrov said in an interview on state television. 

He said no country had the right to stop Russia's support for a civilian nuclear reactor at Bushehr in Iran. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shake hands as they meet in Moscow, October 15, 2005. Rice is in Moscow on a surprise trip to seek Russia's support for a hard line policy against Iran. (REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin)
"No one, including the United States, will challenge our right to continue building the atomic electricity station in Bushehr," he added. 

Some U.S. officials have called on governments to freeze nuclear projects with Iran but others, such as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have said they are not pushing Russia on the Bushehr plant. 

Russia, one of the key players in the diplomatic moves around Iran's nuclear programme, has repeatedly sought to weaken Washington's attempts to bring Iran's case to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions. 

Rice failed on Saturday to win Russia's support for referring Iran to the Council should the Islamic republic refuse to resume talks over its suspected nuclear arms programmes. 

Rice flew to Moscow on a surprise visit to press President Vladimir Putin to commit to backing a referral, which implies the potential for international sanctions, if Iran continued to defy the west, diplomats said. 

Putin was unmoved and reaffirmed Russia's position that the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should deal with Iran, a position Lavrov underlined in his interview. 

"Iran agreed to work with the IAEA. It is very important that the agency is prepared to continue its work," Lavrov said. 


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