Medvedev Insists on Cooperation for Protection against Nuclear Threat

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday urged greater control over nuclear arms, warning radical elements could threaten neighbors and use the weapons to spark large-scale conflict.

At a joint news conference with visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmoham Singh, Medvedev indicated that Russia is interested in strict control over nuclear weapons "so that they aren't taken hostage by any kind of radicals; so that they won't be used to start any kind of conflict or even threaten neighbors."

"This touches on all countries. This touches, of course, upon the Iranian nuclear program," and that of other states, Medvedev said without naming any.

Russia has until recently been hesitant in showing support for new U.S.-led sanctions against Iran in response to its defiance of an enrichment ban. But Tehran's intentions announced at the end of November to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants appeared to have tipped the balance in Moscow in favor of tougher trade punishment.

"I'll say it openly: Moscow has no interest in expanding the nuclear club," Medvedev said.

Singh is in Moscow on a three-day visit to strike a number of defense and energy deals worth several billion dollars.

India hopes to boost uranium fuel imports from Russia, its Cold War ally, and also wants Russian investment in nuclear power stations at home.

State news agencies quoted the country's nuclear energy chief Sergei Kiriyenko as saying that Russia may build up to 20 reactors at three sites in India.

"Nuclear cooperation between the Russian Federation and India in my view has a very big, a very good future," Medvedev said.

Singh said he was "most satisfied" with the talks, which he called "a major step forward."

India is a top Russian arms client, recently securing production licenses for T-90 tanks and contracts to provide Russian aircraft with BrahMos missiles. The countries are building a modern supersonic fighter, equivalent to the U.S. Raptor stealth fighter.

Singh, who was to meet Prime Minister Vladimir Putin later Monday, praised the countries' economic ties, adding they were shooting for $20 billion in bilateral trade by 2015.
Business Week has contributed to the report.

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