Iran: Russia's nuclear proposal is 'good strategy'

AP News
Posted: Aug 16, 2011 12:17 PM
Iran: Russia's nuclear proposal is 'good strategy'

Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Tuesday that a Russian proposal "can be a basis to start negotiations" on its disputed nuclear program that have been stalled since January.

Russia's "step-by-step" approach calls for the international community to make limited concessions to Iran for each step it takes toward meeting demands to come clean about its nuclear intentions.

"The proposal by our Russian friends can be a basis to start negotiations for regional and international cooperation, specifically in the field of peaceful nuclear activities," negotiator Saeed Jalili said on Iran's state TV.

"Dialogue for cooperation can be a good strategy," Jalili said.

Jalili made the comments after holding two rounds of talks with Russia's Security Council chief, Nikolai Patrushev in Tehran Tuesday.

Patrushev also met President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who welcomed the Russian proposal, according to Iran's official IRNA news agency.

The two sides have not gone into details about the proposal.

The U.S. has worked with the Russians on the plan.

"What we are looking for from Iran has not changed," Victoria Nuland, U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Monday. "And we welcome any Russian effort to persuade Iran that it's time to change course and meet its international obligations."

Analysts say the proposal has the potential to bring a breakthrough in the stalled talks between Iran and six world powers. The last talks in January in Istanbul, Turkey, failed without even an agreement on a new date for negotiations.

The six powers _ the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany _ have been pushing Tehran to meet U.N. Security Council demands to stop uranium enrichment. Iran vowed it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.

Patrushev said he and Jalili "spoke about Iran's nuclear problem and the need for cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the six world powers."

Tehran denies accusations that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons, insisting its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and producing isotopes to treat medical patients.

But Western concerns have grown, because Iran's uranium enrichment program could also make fissile warhead material and it refuses to cooperate with U.N. investigations of possible military dimensions of its nuclear programs.

Iran has dismissed intelligence reports suggesting that it has worked on testing a key component of a nuclear bomb, saying the reports are based on "fabricated documents."

Russia is one of the six world powers leading efforts to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. But it also has tried to maintain friendly ties with Tehran.