Moscow expressed its annoyance to Teheran over an Iranian air defense exercise near a Russian-built nuclear plant, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. The Iranian air defense forces did not notify Russian officials before conducting maneuvers Friday near the nuclear plant, being built by Russia in the southern port of Bushehr, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said. "The Russian Embassy has expressed bewilderment, and asked to inform Russian experts in Bushehr about such events in advance," Kamynin said in a statement.
Russia doubts Iran's nuclear progress
The statement reflected the growing tension in the bilateral ties over a dispute involving funding for the Bushehr plant, in addition to Moscow's irritation with Iran's refusal to freeze its uranium enrichment program in line with international demands.
Russia delayed Bushehr's launch, which had been set for September, and refused to ship uranium fuel for the reactor, citing Iran's payment arrears. Iranian officials denied any payment delays, and accused Russia of caving in to Western pressure.
Russia and China joined the rest of the UN Security Council last month in voting to impose new sanctions - the second set of penalties in three months against Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.
The sanctions included the banning of Iranian arms exports and freezing of assets of 28 people and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs.