Putin urges Iran to work with atomic watchdog
The meeting comes just a day after the release of a U.S. intelligence report saying Tehran had halted its nuclear weapons programme four years ago.
“Your trip to Teheran was a turning point in the relations between our countries. Without exaggeration we can say our relations have been taken to a new level. Today it’s a period of strategic partnership”, Saeed Jalili said to Putin.
Shortly before the meeting Putin received a phone call from George Bush, with the Iranian nuclear programme being the key topic.
“One of the interesting tactical decisions that Russia has made that the United States supports is the notion that Iran has a sovereign right to have a civilian nuclear power programme. What they don't have is our confidence that they should be able to enrich uranium, so that those plants would work. Why? Because they had a covert weapons programme that they did not declare and have yet to declare,” Bush said.
The meeting came amidst a surprising report from U.S. intelligence which presented evidence that Tehran had halted its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 and had not yet resumed it.
European officials, however, keen not to appear thrown off balance by the report, said that pressure still needed to be maintained on Iran.
Having acknowledged the agency's findings, the U.S. president insisted Iran is still a danger.
“I view this report as a warning signal. They had the programme, they halted the programme. And the reason why it’s a warning signal is because they could restart it,” Bush stated.
The United States, Britain and France have been pushing for more sanctions, while Russia and China, the other two veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, have so far opposed any such measures.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said Teheran will respond to the IAEA's remaining questions. This was agreed at the meeting between Putin and Jalili.
With all that’s been brought out in the open, the prevailing feeling is that what was most important still went on behind closed doors.