Russia's Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev has played down US fears that Russian construction of a nuclear power plant in Iran may trigger proliferation and made it clear that Moscow would continue its nuclear cooperation with Iran, IRNA reported from Moscow.
According to Itar-Tass news agency, Rumyantsev said he assured US officials that "everything will be done in strict compliance with international norms and agreements".
The Russian atomic energy minister met US Undersecretary of State for arms control and international security John Bolton in Washington Thursday.
"We tried to remove American officials' fears that Russian construction of a nuclear power plant in Iran may trigger proliferation (of weapons of mass destruction)," Itar-Tass cited Rumyantsev as saying.
"Therefore, our information on cooperation with Iran was apprehended with understanding that we do not violate any international commitments," the minister said.
Rumyantsev's new statements evidently jarred with those in March when he said that US "is always criticizing us, but its close economic partners supply Iran with sensitive technology".
He was referring to media reports that an Iranian gas centrifuge, a sophisticated apparatus able to enrich uranium for both power stations and weapons, was made by Western companies.
Iran said it was surprised by those "irresponsible" remarks of Russian officials. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi reiterated that "the nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic are indigenous and Iran uses its own know-how and possibilities (to build a complete nuclear energy cycle)".
A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in February inspected the gas centrifuge in central Natanz.
Washington has whipped up its anti-Iran rhetoric after President Mohammad Khatami made public Tehran's plans for a complete nuclear fuel cycle.
The announcement came shortly after US officials were cited late last year as alleging that American satellites had spotted two sites in Arak and Natanz which suggested they could be used for making nuclear weapons.
Washington suspects Tehran's plans, arguing, "Iran's costly pursuit of a complete nuclear fuel cycle only makes sense if it's in support of a nuclear weapons program."
US says Iran's nuclear programs, while the country sits on some of the biggest oil and gas reserves of the world, are questionable.
Iran says it wants the programs as part of the country's bid to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity to cope with the rising energy demand in the 65-million-nation in the next 20 years, while its gas and oil reserves are becoming overstretched.
Washington also alleges that Russian construction of a nuclear plant in Bushehr could enable Iran to build a nuclear weapon, a charge which both Tehran and Moscow deny.
According to Itar-Tass, Rumyantsev said Bolton informed him that Group of Eight industrial countries' senior officials had agreed in Paris on the implementation of the initiative to grant Russia 20 billion US dollars in ten years for enhancing nuclear safety.
Rumyantsev also discussed the utilization of excessive weapon-grade plutonium, safety of radioactive materials, accounting, control and protection of nuclear materials in the meeting with US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, it said.
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