Russia's Foreign Minister to meet with IAEA director general

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is to meet Mohamed ElBaradei, International Atomic Energy Agency director general, in Vienna Tuesday.

"I expect Mr. ElBaradei to provide first-hand information on the work of IAEA experts who are holding talks in Iran at present," Russia's foreign minister said yesterday at a news conference in Bern.

According to Ivanov, he is planning to discuss the whole scope of Russia-IAEA relations at today's talks with ElBaradei. "The discussion is very much likely to touch upon such issues as the nuclear programmes in Iran and North Korea, and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," said Ivanov.

Speaking of Russia's position on the Iran situation, Ivanov noted that Moscow would like all concerns related to its nuclear programmes to be removed. The programme should have exclusively peaceful goals.

"We deem it necessary that Iran join the supplementary Protocol to the Agreement on IAEA Guarantees," Ivanov went on to say. "It would, no doubt, promote an expanded interaction and higher level of co-operation between Iran and the IAEA," the Russian minister emphasised.

Moscow fully shares the IAEA's position on the need for Iran to comply with the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Russian Foreign Ministry reports.

In particular, Russia has stated its willingness to work with Tehran in an effort to persuade the Iranian side into signing the Protocol, on which the IAEA is insisting.

IAEA Council of Governors has passed a resolution, which sets the deadline for Iran's signing of the Protocol before October 31. The president of Iran has already announced that Tehran has started negotiations on the issue.

In addition, Russia plans to sign an additional protocol with Iran on the return of spent fuel which will be used at Iranian nuclear power plants (so far it will only have to do with one Nuclear station in Bushehr, which is being constructed by Russian engineers).

Moscow has reiterated on multiple occasions that its co-operation with Iran in the field of nuclear power is in full compliance with international norms. Still, according to President Vladimir Putin, Russia wouldn't have some far-fetched suspicions of its co-operation with Iran in the armaments sphere "used as a pretext for unfair competition on the world markets, Iran included." As for the North Korean nuclear programme, Russia and the IAEA share the same position on the issue: nuclear weapons are inadmissible on the Korean Peninsula, the Russian Foreign ministry reports. Moscow has repeatedly said that North Korea made a mistake by withdrawing from the NPT, because this demarche was fraught with dangerous consequences.

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