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Russian Foreign Minister Calls for Resumption of Iran Nuclear Talks

By Lisa Schlein, VOA, Geneva

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is calling for the resumption of talks on Iran's nuclear program as soon as possible. The Russian minister said a more constructive approach is needed to resolve international concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meets Iranian Foreign Minister in Geneva

Lavrov said he discussed Iran's nuclear program with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. All agree the dormant nuclear talks should be revived as soon as possible.

The last round of talks, which were held in January in Istanbul, broke up without any breakthrough on a proposed fuel-swap plan. Under the plan, Iran would agree to end its uranium enrichment program in exchange for enriched foreign material.

Western powers suspect Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this, saying its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Lavrov said a more detailed approach is needed to ensure Iran does not pursue nuclear weapons.

Through an interpreter, he said, "The Iranian partners have said that they are ready to discuss all of these issues, and now we need to do the groundwork for the next round, which, of course, cannot simply be a round where we exchange our positions. We need now to start agreeing on specific agreements. And, the most realistic, I think, is to have a step-by-step approach, where initially, we re-establish confidence."

Western countries charge that Iran's nuclear program breaks the terms of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who spoke at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, did not directly deal with this controversial issue. Instead, he lashed out at the major nuclear powers, claiming their huge stockpiles of weapons pose the greatest threat to the survival of humankind.

Salehi said the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty does not provide a right for states with nuclear weapons to keep their nuclear arsenals indefinitely.

"New aristocracy based on two classes of international civilians of 'haves' and 'have nots' should not be tolerated anymore. Nuclear energy is not equating to nuclear weapons, and the right of all states for peaceful nuclear activities should be guaranteed."

Iranian minister Salehi said the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty does not mean the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons. He said the production, possession, development, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, under any pretext, is illegitimate, immoral and inhumane.

... Payvand News - 03/02/11 ... --

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