Russia said yesterday that world powers concerned about Iran’s nuclear program were asking Tehran only to suspend uranium enrichment during a period of talks.
Following a meeting on Iran in London of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said no mention had been made of new sanctions and that Tehran must be made to see the advantages of cooperation.
“Our first conditions are the freezing, suspension of uranium enrichment. The approach of the six [powers] is that Iran should suspend enrichment only for the period in which talks continue,” Lavrov told the Interfax and ITAR-TASS news agencies.
“There wasn’t anything about new sanctions although our American colleagues take the view that pressure on Iran must be maintained,” he said.
“It’s necessary to explain to Iran the advantages it would receive from agreeing to start talks, on the basis of one condition — the freezing of uranium enrichment,” Lavrov said.
Western powers fear Tehran wants to use its nuclear program to make atomic weapons, but the Islamic republic insists the drive is peaceful and solely aimed at providing energy for a growing population.
The six have been using a mix of incentives and sanctions to try to persuade Iran to rein in its nuclear work.
Following Friday’s talks in London, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the powers had “reviewed and updated” an offer made to Iran in June 2006, but that the contents of the new proposal would only be disclosed to the Islamic republic.
The proposals are in the areas of energy, trade and investment and regional security, Lavrov said.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Friday the proposals were more “precise and detailed” than before.
The six powers have offered technical, political and economic rewards to Tehran for suspending its nuclear program.
At the same time, the UN Security Council has adopted three resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.
Russia has relatively close ties to Iran despite historical tensions and has generally taken a softer approach on the sanctions.