Putin told BBC television that he would not let others use concerns over Iran’s nuclear efforts as an excuse to harm Russian companies.
|Putin does not want Russian |
companies to be squeezed out of
“We are against the option of using the subject of Iran’s potential nuclear programme as a way of squeezing Russian companies out of the Iranian market,” he said.
Putin pledged to continue developing relations with Tehran.
“Iran is our neighbor and traditional partner, and we have developed a certain system of international cooperation (with Iran),” he added.
However, Putin said Russia had its own concerns and “some serious questions” about the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme.
Stressing that his country was against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the president said “certain Western European countries” were also co-operating with Iran in this area.
The United States has repeatedly expressed concerns over the Russian-Iranian nuclear co-operation.
Russia is building Iran’s first nuclear reactor at Bushehr and has dismissed US accusations that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran has rejected international demands to immediately allow wider inspections of its nuclear facilities by a UN nuclear watchdog agency.
In a move seen by observers as a concession to US concerns, Russia has said it will transport nuclear fuel to the Bushehr plant only after Iran agrees to tougher inspections.
Putin's comments were broadcast a day after Russia's foreign ministry said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting in Vienna had neither imposed sanctions on Iran nor indicted it over the nuclear issue.
It had merely noted in a report that Tehran had failed to report certain nuclear activities.
"Since the IAEA issued no reproach, there is no reason to put an end to our cooperation," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.