Russia Downplays Iran's 'Good News'
Russian experts are downplaying Iran's "good news" to have joined the world's nuclear technology club.
Iran's announcement that it had processed uranium is no cause for alarm, said Viktor Mikhailov, former Russian minister of atomic energy.
"Largely a bluff," said Vladimir Yevseyev, a senior researcher at the Moscow-based Center for Global Security.
"A fairy tale," declared Yevgeny Velikhov, a politically connected nuclear scientist.
Russia's assessment matters because President Vladimir Putin's government has positioned itself as in intermediary in the international standoff over Iran's nuclear program. Russia has offered to supply Iran's civilian nuclear program with nuclear fuel jointly processed in Russia, but so far, Iran has not accepted the offer
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Iran's announcement would not bolster its negotiating position with the West.
"A solution of the Iranian problem from the position of strength does not exist. All European Union countries agree with this," Lavrov said. "If there are any such plans after all, they will fail to produce a solution, but will merely create a highly explosive situation in the Middle East."
Most, but not all, of the commentators consulted by the Moscow-based Russian Profile Web site before Iran's announcement doubted that Russia's diplomatic initiative toward Iran could succeed.
But Mikailov said he believes the issue can still be settled peacefully, predicting "Iranian authorities will soon accept Russia's proposal to set up a joint venture for uranium enrichment on Russian territory."
Lavrov emphasized Russia "would not make any conclusions in haste. Emotions run high too often over the Iranian nuclear program."
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