TEHRAN, December 11 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is interested in continuing collaboration with Iran in the development of the Islamic Republic’s civilian nuclear power program, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
In September, Russia handed over to Iran operational control of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, built with Russia’s assistance in the country’s south.
“We see the same interest on the Iranian side. We know of Iran’s plans to build additional nuclear power units similar to Bushehr, which operates on a light water reactor, and I emphasize the point that this reactor is not banned by the UN Security Council’s resolutions,” Lavrov said following talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif.
The Russian foreign minister praised the progress in the implementation of a deal between Tehran and the so-called P5+1 group of international negotiators on Iran’s controversial nuclear program reached in Geneva last month.
Tehran agreed to temporary freeze its nuclear research in exchange for lifting some of the crippling international sanctions. The deal also stipulates that international observers will monitor nuclear sites in the country.
But the parties still have to work out a permanent agreement that would alleviate Western fears about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program being a facade to build an atomic bomb.
Iran’s nuclear program
During the meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, Lavrov and Zarif also agreed on the need to boost bilateral trade and cultural ties, as well as step up collaboration on regional issues, including the situation in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, a coalition of Gulf states backed by Saudi Arabia on Wednesday expressed concern over Iran’s plans to build more nuclear reactors. But it stopped short of echoing Western fears of an atomic arsenal.
The head of the Gulf Cooperation Council said after a two-day summit in Kuwait that “more nuclear reactors on the banks of the Gulf threaten the environmental system and water security,” Reuters reported.