TEHRAN (FNA)- US President George W. Bush thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday for Moscow’s efforts to help ease alleged international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
“I appreciate his leadership on the Iranian issue,” Bush said at a joint news conference following talks with Putin at the southern Russian resort city of Sochi, which had included discussions about Iran.
“Russia’s agreement to deliver nuclear fuel and take back spent fuel from Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr is a welcome step that provides Iran a civil nuclear power capability” without the need to enrich uranium itself, the two sides said in a joint declaration issued after the meeting.
Iran has repeatedly dismissed the rationale, saying that western and world powers have left a poor record in their previous nuclear deals with Iran, meaning that Tehran could not trust foreign countries for continued flow of the sensitive fuel.
Russia, which is building Iran’s first nuclear power plant at Bushehr, says it has seen no evidence that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, but has backed UN sanctions resolutions aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear work.
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 similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seemed to be completely irrational.
The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.
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 Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.
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 in winter 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.