Lavrov: Sanctions on Iran won't affect Bushehr nuclear plant

Russian foreign minister says project is "in full accordance with norms of the IAEA and there can be no talk about any sort of restrictions on it."

In what appeared to be Russia's first public comments on the new proposed UN sanctions on Iran, circulated by France and Britain on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the proposal was based on Russian amendments and that it wouldn't affect the Bushehr nuclear power plant. "As far as Bushehr is concerned, Bushehr has no relation to the current resolution," Lavrov said in televised comments. The project, he said, "is in full accordance with norms of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and there can be no talk about any sort of restrictions on it." Meanwhile, The head of Russia's nuclear energy agency heard renewed calls in Teheran for the swift completion of the joint Russian-Iranian nuclear power plant project at Bushehr, southern Iran, Monday. "We consider the completion of Bushehr as symbolic for bilateral ties," Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said during a joint press conference with Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko. The first phase of the 800-million-dollar project in the Persian Gulf port of Bushehr was to have been completed by Russia in 1999, but has been subject to numerous delays. Latest agreements between the two sides schedule the plant's opening for September 2007. Mottaki also referred to Moscow's offer to enrich uranium on Russian soil for Iranian energy purposes, made in a bid to resolve the international row over Iran's nuclear ambitions, and said, "the initiative was still under evaluation by Teheran." Kiriyenko said at the same conference though an interpreter that Russia also preferred a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran's controversial nuclear program. "The right to pursue civil nuclear technology goes however along with the issue of non-proliferation," the Russian official said. He added that Russia would be ready to cooperate with Iran on uranium enrichment in Russia. Kiriyenko was to meet later Monday with Vice-President Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh, who is also head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization. The timely completion of the Bushehr plant is expected to top the agenda of the talks. The new proposal is aimed at winning the support of Russia and China, two other permanent council members that complained that the originally proposed sanctions were too broad.