Bloomberg News

Iran Must See ‘End of Tunnel’ for Nuclear Deal, Russia Says

June 02, 2011

(Updates with detail on proposal from seventh paragraph.)

June 2 (Bloomberg) -- World powers should offer to ease sanctions to gain Iran’s cooperation in resolving the dispute over the country’s nuclear program, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany have stalled since January and Russia believes incentives are needed to kick-start the process, Lavrov said yesterday in an interview in Moscow.

“We have to show to Iran that if it cooperates, if it answers satisfactorily the IAEA demands, then it should see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Lavrov said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog.

The Persian Gulf state in mid-2010 came under a fourth set of UN sanctions, which Russia supported. The U.S. and European Union later imposed tougher unilateral measures. Russia won’t support new sanctions against Iran, Lavrov said.

“It’s a process that can only be successful if we count not on new sanctions and threats, but on negotiations,” he said.

The IAEA, based in Vienna, has been probing Iran’s nuclear work since 2003, when it was revealed that the government had hidden atomic research for two decades. The U.S. has accused Iran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon, while Iran says its program is for civilian energy production.

Russia built Iran’s first nuclear power plant, in Bushehr, and plans to start full operations at the facility “very soon,” Rosatom Corp., Russia’s state nuclear holding company, said May 26.

Tougher Inspections

If Iran agrees to resume tougher IAEA inspections, the EU and U.S. should pledge not to introduce any new, unilateral sanctions, Lavrov said.

“And then when Iran does something else, expanding access for the IAEA to the places where the agency wants to go, then we suspend sanctions,” he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in July that Iran was getting closer to achieving the capability to make nuclear weapons.

Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, has rejected UN demands to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used both for generating electricity and for making nuclear warheads. Negotiations broke down in January after talks in Istanbul between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group, comprised of China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and U.S.

--Editors: Brad Cook, Torrey Clark, Willy Morris

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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