MOSCOW – Russia voiced concern Monday about the latest Iranian missile tests and urged Tehran to fully cooperate with a U.N. nuclear watchdog and answer questions about its secret nuclear facility, news reports said.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after meeting with his Iranian counterpart at the United Nations in New York that he urged Tehran to be "maximally cooperative" in its contacts with the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding its previously undisclosed uranium enrichment facility.
Last week, Iran disclosed that it was developing a new secret facility for the enrichment of uranium — the key step to making a bomb. On Monday, Iran successfully test launched upgraded missiles capable of reaching Israel.
"We proceed from the assumption that the Iranian side got the message and we shall see a result of our conversation in Geneva" at a new round of talks between Iran and the six world powers which start Thursday, Lavrov said, according to the ITAR-Tass and RIA Novosti news agencies. The six nations are the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.
He said Monday's missile test in the context of the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program causes concern, adding that he raised the issue in his talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
"It's necessary to show restraint, and we talked about it as well," Lavrov said.
Washington and its Western allies count on Moscow's support for tougher sanctions against Iran.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev opened the door for possible sanctions after a meeting with President Barack Obama last week, but hinted that Iran's offer to open its new uranium enrichment site to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and other measures might be enough to satisfy Moscow.
Lavrov expressed hope that Iran would fully answer the U.N. nuclear watchdog's questions about the new uranium enrichment facility, paving the way for a negotiated settlement regarding the Iranian nuclear program. His statement signaled Moscow's hope of avoiding tougher sanctions.