Russia confirms plans to help Iran enrich uranium
Iran agrees to allow UN inspectors into the Tehran nuclear research facility for which the uranium is intended.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that a plan for Russia to help enrich uranium for an Iranian reactor has yet to be finalized, in the highest-level Russian confirmation of a tentative agreement reached between Tehran and six world powers last week.
Lavrov said that experts would have to work out specifics of the deal involving the United States, France, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful, and needs the fuel to power a research reactor in Tehran.
A meeting of experts will be held in the near future in order to implement that plan, Lavrov said after a meeting with his Austrian counterpart.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said experts will meet in Vienna on Oct. 19 to discuss the deal for Russia to take some of Iran's processed uranium and enrich it. He said Iran would take part.
The uranium-enrichment arrangement discussed at Thursday's talks between Iran and the six powers - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - has increased hopes for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said Moscow could support tougher UN sanctions against Iran if diplomatic efforts to halt its domestic enrichment program fail.
Thursday's talks in Geneva included the highest-level bilateral contact between U.S. and Iranian officials, and Tehran also agreed to allow UN inspectors into its covertly built enrichment plant during the talks.
The tentative agreement has increased hopes for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff, and was reportedly proposed by ElBaradei in a recent visit to Iran.
On Saturday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said U.S. President Barack Obama made a big mistake when he accused the country of having hidden a newly revealed nuclear site.
Iran reported the facility to the United Nations even earlier than required, he said.
Ahmadinejad's comments came hours before the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, arrived in Iran to arrange an inspection of the uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom.
Iran agreed to allow UN inspectors into the facility at a landmark meeting with six world powers near Geneva on Thursday. It put nuclear talks back on track and included Iran's highest-level bilateral contact with the United States in three decades.
But the new site has raised concerns for the United States and many of its allies who suspect Iran of using its nuclear program to develop weapons capability - an allegation rejected by Tehran.
ElBaradei recently said Tehran was on the wrong side of the law over its new plant because the country should have revealed its plans as soon as it decided to build the facility - a position backed by the United States.
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