Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov [official profile], in Tehran to discuss an $800 million deal [Aljazeera report] to build a nuclear power plant in southern Iran in 2006, has told a press conference that US efforts to refer Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [official website] over its nuclear program are "premature and ... counter-productive." The IAEA has imposed a November 25 deadline for Iran to cease all uranium-enrichment activities, and Lavrov stated that he "will be expecting the cooperation between Iran and the IAEA to continue." However, his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi [backgrounder], also at the press conference, told reporters:
It is Iran's legitimate right to master nuclear technology including uranium enrichment. There is no talk of stopping it. It's not something Iran can accept. However, Iran is open to any proposal or mechanism to ensure that it won't go towards nuclear weapons.Along with the US, Britain, France and Germany would like Iran to abandon nuclear fuel cycle work, which can be used for atomic energy or nuclear weapons. Fuel cycle work for peaceful purposes is permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) [summary], of which Iran is a signatory, and Iran insists it simply wants to use nuclear power to meet growing domestic energy demands and free up its vast oil and gas resources for export. AFP has more.