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Russian Sees No Clues Iran Sought Nuclear Bomb

May 07, 2003|From Associated Press

MOSCOW — In a rebuff to the United States, a top Russian diplomat said Tuesday that there was no evidence that Iran pursued a nuclear weapons capability in violation of the international nonproliferation agreement.

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov contradicted allegations about Iran's nuclear program that U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton made Monday in Moscow. Bolton had sought to persuade Russian officials to acknowledge that Tehran has a clandestine weapons program and to win Russian support for a critical report on Iran's nuclear efforts by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Very sound evidence is needed to accuse anyone. So far, neither the United States nor any other countries can present it," Losyukov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Losyukov did acknowledge that Iran's nuclear program had some uncertainties, and said Moscow would work with Tehran to "add more transparency" to its program. As for Russian-Iranian nuclear cooperation, Losyukov said the work was "strictly in line with IAEA norms."

Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran has long been an issue between Washington and Moscow. The United States maintains that the technology and expertise Iran is gaining from Russia's construction of the $800-million Bushehr nuclear power plant could be used for a weapons program

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