Russian FM: Iran should halt centrifuge production

Lavrov tells CNN that if Tehran halts production, new sanctions won't be adopted; message should be sent that this "is not about regime change."

Iranian President Ahmadinejad at nuclear facility 311 (R) (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
Iranian President Ahmadinejad at nuclear facility 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Iran to take a first step and "freez[e] the production of centrifuges," saying that such a step would prevent fresh sanctions against it.
If Iran makes that first step, Lavrov said in a CNN interview Sunday, Russia won't "adopt new sanctions, neither in the Security Council nor unilaterally."
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Saying that the only way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue is through negotiations, he added, "I believe that if Iran gets a very clear message [that this] is not about regime change but about non-proliferation issues, I believe we have a chance to start these serious discussions."
Iran welcomed last month a Russian attempt to revive talks with six world powers that are concerned about the its uranium enrichment program, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, but was vague about what the agenda should be.
"We have not received a complete and official plan offered by Russia for Iran's nuclear issue," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was cited as saying by the ISNA news agency.

After meeting Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, his Iranian counterpart said a proposal by Moscow, details of which have not been made public, could be used to re-launch the talks that stalled in January.

"Our Russian friends' suggestion could be a basis for starting talks for regional and international cooperation especially in the field of peaceful nuclear activities," Saeed Jalili, secretary general of Iran's National Security Council, told state broadcaster IRIB.

Jalili's general remarks gave no indication Iran was now prepared, unlike previously, to address what the powers see as the crucial concern -- its uranium enrichment drive, which UN inspectors say Iran has not proven is for peaceful energy only.

Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, plus Germany (known as the EU3+3 or P5+1), in Istanbul in January foundered with Iran insisting on having what it says is its right to produce nuclear fuel recognized.

Since then, Iran has vowed to increase its enrichment activities and shift its production of higher grade fuel to an underground bunker that would be less vulnerable to a military strike.