Russia gives US hands-off warning

Moscow has warned Washington not to pressure it over its nuclear links with Iran as the top US arms control official arrived in Moscow for talks on non-proliferation and an upcoming Russia-US summit.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin is to visit the US shortly

    "I think our American colleagues understand very well that it is pointless to put pressure on us," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said in an interview published on Wednesday in the Vremya Novostei daily.

      

    "We have our points of view. To the extent that they coincide with that of the Americans, we are ready to work and we are working together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," he added.

     

    Meeting

      

    The Russian official's comments came ahead of his meeting on Wednesday with John Bolton, the under-secretary of state for arms control and international security.

      

    On Tuesday Washington, which has repeatedly urged Moscow to halt its construction of Iran's first nuclear reactor at Bushehr, accused it of delivering arms to Iran, although it waived sanctions against Russia in the US national interest.

      

    At the same time, the US State Department imposed penalties on Tula KBP, a Russian government-owned arms manufacturer that it said had sold laser-guided artillery shells to Iran, a nation Washington considers a "state sponsor of terrorism."

     

    "I think our American colleagues understand very well that it is pointless to put pressure on us"

    Sergei Kislyak
    Russian deputy foreign minister

    The United States has made similar charges against Russia in the past and has expressed deep and growing concerns about Russian cooperation with Iran's nuclear programme, which Washington believes is a cover for atomic weapons development.

     

    The Russian government and the companies have repeatedly denied the charges.

      

    Iran and other proliferation issues were expected to top Bolton's agenda during his two-day visit to Russia. "He is here to discuss non-proliferation issues with Russian

    officials," a US embassy spokesman said in Moscow.

     

    The US envoy is also expected to discuss preparations for Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to the US in a week's time.

      

    As always with Bolton's visits to Moscow, US and Russian officials issued few details of the content of his talks.

     

    Moscow has endorsed an 31 October deadline by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran to address concerns about its atomic programme.

      

    But Russia's powerful nuclear industry lobby is determined to press ahead with the $800 million construction of Bushehr, regardless of concerns that Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. 

      

    SOURCE: AFP


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