Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Russia opposes use of force against Iran

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia opposes using force to stop Iran's nuclear programme, the Russian Foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

"We favour further dialogue and consider the use of force in Iran counter-productive and dangerous, something which can have grave and hardly predictable consequences," a statement posted on the ministry's web site said.

The West fears that the ultimate goal of oil-rich Iran's project to develop its own nuclear power sector is to develop atomic weapons.

Iran angered the European Union and the United States by resuming work at a uranium conversion plant earlier this month, rejecting an EU incentives package offered in return for giving up its nuclear programme.

The ministry statement did not say where threats to use force had come from and referred to unspecified media reports.

Earlier this month U.S. President George W. Bush said military force remained a last resort to press Tehran to abandon its nuclear programme.

Russia, which has constructed a nuclear power plant for Iran and is hoping for more such contracts, has criticised Tehran for restarting the uranium conversion.

Moscow says that there was no technical need for Iran to convert its own uranium since Moscow had agreed to supply all necessary nuclear fuel for the Bushehr power plant due to go into operation next year.

But it has been traditionally opposed to applying blanket pressure against Tehran.

"We consider that problems concerning Iran's nuclear activities should be solved through political and diplomatic means, on the basis of international law and Tehran's close cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency," the Russian statement said.

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