Last Updated: Thu Jan 05, 2012 15:01 pm (KSA) 12:01 pm (GMT)

Ahmadinejad backs Russian stance on nuclear dispute after EU oil ban

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he supports his Russian counterpart’s efforts to resolve the international nuclear dispute over Iran. (Reuters)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he supports his Russian counterpart’s efforts to resolve the international nuclear dispute over Iran. (Reuters)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Russian premier Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday that he backs Moscow’s efforts to resolve the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear drive diplomatically, the Kremlin said.

“Dmitry Medvedev noted with satisfaction the Iranian president’s positive assessment of the Russian initiative − a plan of gradually restoring faith in the Iranian nuclear program. The two sides agreed to continue consolations on this question,” the Medvedev administration said in a statement.

The two leaders spoke after European diplomats said Wednesday that the European Union had reached preliminary agreement on an EU-wide ban on oil from the Islamic republic in a move backed by the United States.

European Union governments reached a preliminary agreement to ban imports of Iranian crude to the EU but have yet to decide when such an embargo would be put in place, EU diplomats said on Wednesday.

Diplomats said that EU envoys held talks on the issue in the last days of December and that any objections to the idea, notably from Greece, were dropped.

Russia has relatively close ties with Iran and has built its first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr. Moscow has also delivered the nuclear fuel for the reactor.

Moscow has echoed Western concerns about the nature of the Iranian nuclear program but has stopped short of publicly accusing Tehran of seeking atomic weapons and has always said that the standoff should be solved by diplomacy.

In December, the Russian customs service said it had seized radioactive material found in the luggage of a passenger bound for Tehran at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport.

The service said in a statement that tests showed the material was a radioactive isotope which could be obtained only “as a result of a nuclear reactor’s operations,” according to Reuters.

The statement said the material had triggered an alarm in the airport’s radiation control system. The luggage search led to a discovery of 18 pieces of radioactive metal packed in individual steel casings.

Prosecutors launched a probe into the incident, according to The Associated Press.

An official in Iran’s embassy in Moscow told the Iranian news agency ISNA the seizure of radioactive material from a Tehran-bound passenger at Moscow airport reported by Russian authorities is “a lie.”

“The news of the discovery of a radioactive consignment headed for Iran in Moscow is a lie,” the embassy official told ISNA.

Western reports on the seizure were aimed at “sabotaging Russo-Iranian relations and trying to create problems and tensions in relations by fabricating issues,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

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