TEHRAN (FNA) – The international community must increase its diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview aired Monday.
“I cannot imagine that anyone would like to resolve the problem over Iran’s nuclear program by force,” Lavrov told Turkey’s NTV news channel. “This is absolutely unacceptable.
“All of us should increase their efforts by three or four times to try to find a solution through negotiations,” he said.
The UN Security Council has already slapped two rounds of sanctions on Iran and the US is keen for a third set in face of Tehran’s ongoing uranium enrichment which Tehran says is just for peaceful purposes.
A final decision is likely to hinge on a new report by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, expected later this month.
“Many people expect the report to fill in the information gaps on Iran’s nuclear program,” Lavrov said.
A permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has defended Tehran’s civilian nuclear ambitions and denied US-led allegations that Iran poses a security threat or is planning to build a nuclear weapon.
Russian engineers are close to finishing Iran’s first atomic power station at Bushehr, which is to be powered with Russian-supplied uranium.
The US is at loggerheads with Iran over Tehran’s independent and home-grown nuclear technology. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.
Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted the recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and a similar report by the IAEA head in November which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities, Russia and China increased resistance to any further punitive measures by the Security Council.
Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.
Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhovin.
Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.
US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East earlier this month has called on his Arab allies to unite against Iran.
But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.
Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the growing international vigilance, specially following the latest IAEA and US intelligence reports.