Iran's top nuclear negotiator arrives in Moscow

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, in Moscow for talks on his country's disputed nuclear program, warned Friday that Tehran would reconsider its ties with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog if European-drafted sanctions are passed by the U.N. Security Council.

Larijani told reporters upon arrival in Moscow that Tehran would reconsider its relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency if the British-French draft resolution wins the Council's approval. "We will reconsider relations with the IAEA if the United Nations pass the ... resolution ignoring Russia's amendments," Larijani said according to the Interfax, ITAR-Tass and RIA Novosti news agencies.

The European draft resolution would order all countries to ban the supply of material and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs and impose a travel ban and asset freeze on companies, individuals and organizations involved in those programs. It would exempt the nuclear power plant being built by Russia at the Iranian port of Bushehr, Iran, but not the nuclear fuel needed for the reactor.

Moscow has rejected the European draft, saying the sanctions are too broad and too strong. It urged the removal of all references to Bushehr, among other revisions.

At the same time, Russian nuclear officials have hinted they could postpone Bushehr's scheduled launch next year a signal that Moscow was applying its own pressure on Tehran to comply with international demands. But analysts said Moscow would draw the line at scrapping the project, which is more than a decade old and worth some US$1 billion (Ђ800 million).

Tehran has balked at a Russian offer to host the Iranian enrichment effort on its soil to assuage international concerns that it could develop weapons. In an apparent bid to soothe Russia's irritation, Larijani said Friday that the proposal has remained on the table, reports AP.

Larijani was scheduled to hold talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other Russian officials Friday.

Lavrov said Thursday that Russia which has repeatedly emphasized it favors negotiations with Iran over punishment would push for a rapid start to international talks on Tehran's nuclear program.

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