Russian FM sees scope for easing sanctions on Iran

Lavrov says "real positive steps" can be taken to meet concerns about Iranian nuke program; says Bushehr problem was "exclusively" technical.

March 1, 2011 13:06
1 minute read.
Iranian Reactor

Iranian Reactor 311 reuters. (photo credit: reuters)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that international sanctions on Iran could be eased if Tehran makes "real positive steps" to meet concerns about its nuclear program.

Lavrov also told a Geneva news conference that a problem at the Russian-built nuclear reactor in Iran at Bushehr was "exclusively" technical and he expected it to be resolved in three months.

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Lavrov made the comments as Israeli government sources said on Monday that a new IAEA report that Iran may be seeking to develop a nuclear-armed missile only underscores the importance of upgrading pressure on Iran and convincing Tehran that a military option is a real possibility if it doesn’t stop pursuing nuclear arms.

The officials were responding to a confidential document leaked over the weekend that signaled the UN body’s growing frustration at Iran’s lack of cooperation.

The report made clear Tehran’s determination to press ahead with sensitive atomic activity despite four rounds of UN sanctions since 2006, saying the country had informed the IAEA it would soon start operating a second uranium enrichment plant.

Israeli officials said that while stepped-up military and economic pressure was necessary, the only thing likely to stop the Iranians was their belief that the West had a credible military option, and would be willing to use it.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has conveyed this message in recent days during private meetings, including one on Sunday with a congressional delegation. If there is a credible military option, he said, the chances that it will have to be used are, paradoxically, reduced.

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