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Iran needs to heed IAEA demands – Russia

Russia joins China in urging Iran to work with IAEA

September 7, 2010 3:12 by

Russia’s foreign minister urged Iran on Tuesday to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency following claims the Islamic Republic was hampering its work by barring inspectors from the country.

An IAEA report, obtained by Reuters in Vienna on Monday, said Iran was blocking some of its inspectors with Iran-specific experience from entering the country.

The watchdog also voiced concern about possible activities in Iran aimed at developing a nuclear-armed missile, urging Tehran to grant access to relevant sites, equipment and personnel “without further delay”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, echoing a similar call from Beijing earlier on Tuesday, said Iran needed to respond to the agency’s demands.

“The IAEA must continue its work … Iran must answer the demands of the IAEA,” he told a news conference in Paris, where he met his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.

On Monday, a Russian official said the United States was hindering the resumption of talks with Iran on a fuel swap deal aimed at easing concerns over the country’s nuclear ambitions.

The official said Western demands that Iran give up making low-enriched uranium were futile and the countries should instead focus on preventing Tehran from acquiring fuel which could be used in a bomb.

Western powers suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a fear heightened by its move in February to start enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent from about 3.5 percent previously, taking it closer to weapons-grade thresholds.

Iran denies that it is trying to build nuclear weapons, saying it was forced to enrich to higher levels after talks for a fuel swap deal with the United States, Russia and France stalled last year.

(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Noah Barkin)

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