Russia wants Iran to be nuclear-free

Russia has a vital stake in seeing that Iran stays nuclear-free. This is the view expressed on Tuesday at a news conference in RIA Novosti by Radzhab Safarov, director-general of the Russian centre for the study of present-day Iran. According to him, Russia "does not really want" to have on its southern borders a country possessing nuclear weapons, since "such weapons can be used as an element of pressure in deciding inter-state issues". "We do not have eternal friends, we have eternal interests," said Safarov.

At the same time, he described as "totally unjustified" US fears that Iran might develop nuclear weapons and the reports about the construction of two facilities in the Iranian towns of Natanza and Araka, allegedly sites that can manufacture components for the production of nuclear weapons.

Safarov recalled that the US first paid attention to these facilities on the initiative of Alireza Jafarzadeh's National Council of Resistance of Iran, functioning in Washington, following which they became a focus for American spy satellites.

The expert explained that the two above-mentioned Iranian facilities are actually "part of the full cycle of nuclear power generation mechanisms" within the framework of the nuclear power plant under construction in Bushehr. Natanza is the site for a research nuclear laboratory which studies the nuclear cycle for peaceful purposes. And Araka hosts a plant to produce deuterium oxide (heavy water), which helps to enrich uranium. This, according to Safarov, "theoretically might have been proof of creation of nuclear technologies".

But, the expert emphasised, the nuclear plant at Bushehr will have a light-water reactor, which cannot produce plutonium, which is the main component of nuclear weapons. Thus, Safarov concluded, "Iran lacks technical facilities for developing its own nuclear weapons".

In replying to journalists' question about the role of Russian specialists in the functioning of the Natanza and Araka centres, Safarov quoted Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev as saying that "Russia has no hand in them, not a single Russian specialist has ever worked there or advised the Iranian side".

Safarov also indicated that all earlier inspections carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency /IAEA/ have confirmed the "scientific" nature of Iran's nuclear facilities.

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