Sergey Lavrov 298.88 ap.
(photo credit: ap [file])
Russia demanded on Sunday that Iran halt uranium enrichment so that talks can resume in the row over Teheran's controversial nuclear program, according to comments by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in a television interview.
"Iran could at least halt the enrichment procedure that is currently operating in the centrifuges," Ivanov told Arab broadcaster al-Jazeera in an interview broadcast on Russian television.
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The move would be a "strategic exit" from the current difficult situation, Ivanov said.
Every country had the right to use atomic energy for peaceful means, Ivanov said.
At the same time, the world community had to ensure that, apart from the existing nuclear powers, no other country was working on programs to develop nuclear weapons, he said.
On Friday, Lavrov said that Moscow would support sanctions on nuclear material and "sensitive technologies" to Iran.
In response, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said Sunday, "There is no change in the Russian stance and Moscow is still trying to soften the sanction plans against Iran," Hosseini said in a press briefing in Tehran.
"We are satisfied with Russia's stance which is different from that of the others (United Nations Security Council member states plus Germany)," the spokesman said.
Referring to Tuesday's six-party talks - veto powers Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany - Hosseini predicted that "nothing new would happen."
"We will continue our programmes in accordance with the Non- Proliferation Treaty regulations and are still ready to reply to any remaining ambiguities," the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei said Sunday at a lecture at Kyoto University in Japan that Iran was four to nine years away from developing a nuclear bomb, a time period that allowed the international community leeway to find a diplomatic solution to the country's nuclear program.
According to ElBaradei, neither Iran nor North Korea will comply with attempts to force them to abandon their nuclear programs, and would likely accelerate their nuclear activity in response to any such tactics. ElBaradei suggested that the international community employ a "stick and carrot" approach to ending the crisis, Israel Radio reported.
Addressing Iran specifically, ElBaradei recommended that the international community strengthen ties rather than isolating the nation on the basis of its current nuclear policy.