MOSCOW – Russia will decide its stance on the Iranian nuclear crisis based on a report next week by the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the deputy foreign minister said Thursday.
Sergei Kislyak said consultations would be held after the April 28 release of the report by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Both Russia and China have been resistant to levying sanctions against Iran in response to suspicions over its nuclear program.
"We will determine our reaction depending on the contents of the report," Kislyak was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency. "The IAEA has ideas of what is happening and what is not happening in Iran. We'll be relying on these evaluations."
China on Thursday renewed calls for a negotiated settlement.
"We hope relevant parties will exercise restraint and show flexibility to properly handle the Iranian nuclear issue, to create conditions for the solution of the issue through negotiations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular briefing in Beijing.
ITAR-Tass quoted an unnamed Iranian source as saying that Russian diplomats were meeting Thursday with an Iranian delegation led by Javad Vaidi, deputy secretary of Iran's National Security Council. The Russians were briefing the Iranians on the results of meetings in Moscow this week between the five permanent U.N. Security Council members, plus Germany, ITAR-Tass reported.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns gave an upbeat assessment of the talks, which also included representatives of the Group of Eight, saying nearly every country involved was "considering some sort of sanctions, and that's new."
Burns stressed that all participants in the talks were intent on preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability but continued to differ on how to do it. He declined to specify which countries opposed possible sanctions.
"What is new is a greater sense of urgency given what the Iranians did last week," Burns said, referring to Iran's announcement that it had succeeded in enriching uranium for the first time.
Being able to enrich uranium is a significant step toward being able to produce nuclear weapons, though Iran says it will use the process only to fuel nuclear power stations.
Iran has rebuffed calls to abandon its enrichment program.
Envoys from Britain, France and Germany held at least two hours of talks Wednesday evening with Vaidi and Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, but there was little progress, the British Foreign Office said.
"We detected nothing new in the Iranian position," the Foreign Office said.
The United States and Britain say that if Iran does not meet the Security Council's April 28 deadline to stop enrichment, they will seek a resolution that would make the demand compulsory. Burns said representatives of the Group of Eight, which includes the United States and Russia, would meet in early May to discuss the next steps.
Russia, meanwhile, rejected a U.S. call for Moscow to end its cooperation with Iran in constructing the Busheher nuclear power plant.
Burns said Wednesday the United States had called on countries to end all nuclear cooperation with Iran, including work on the Busheher plant. He also said countries should stop all arms exports to Iran.
"Up to now, the Security Council has taken no decision on ending cooperation with Iran in nuclear energy," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said, according to ITAR-Tass.
The head of Russia's nuclear power agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, denied that Russian cooperation in constructing the plant would threaten the international nuclear nonproliferation regime, Russian news agencies reported.