UNITED NATIONS – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday the United Nations' nuclear watchdog needs to continue monitoring the Iranian nuclear program, adding that Moscow would make its own judgment based on the inspectors' view of its nature and goals.
Lavrov emphasized that Russia is relying on the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed only at producing electricity, but the United States and other countries fear Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Russia has joined calls for Iran to stop its enrichment activities, and has said that its proposal to host the Iranian uranium enrichment effort is conditional on Tehran resuming a moratorium on enrichment activities.
The Iranian Embassy in Moscow said Friday that Russia's proposal to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian territory remains on the negotiating table. But Russian officials have said that the Iranians had so far reacted coolly to the initiative.
Tehran supports any approach that "takes into consideration its right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including the right to enrich uranium," the embassy said in a statement distributed to the media on Friday.
"Thus, the Russian proposal, as reflected in the statements of the official representative of the Foreign Ministry of our country, remains on the negotiating table," the embassy said.
The embassy emphasized that "Russia and China are insisting on the IAEA role and do not think that the Iranian nuclear program threatens international security."
Asked to comment on the statement, Lavrov said that Russia did not have its own opinion on the subject and relied on IAEA experts.
"In such an important and serious sphere as nuclear non-proliferation we can only rely on assessments made by professionals," Lavrov told reporters.
He added that Russia based its judgment on the IAEA's view that years of monitoring had failed to produce concrete evidence of any Iranian nuclear weapons program but couldn't prove its absence.
"That is why all our proposals are aimed at the need to clarify the issue," Lavrov said. "To do that, it's necessary to fully support the continuation of the IAEA activities in Iran."
The U.N. Security Council this week started discussing a Western-backed resolution that would make mandatory an earlier council demand that Iran stop uranium enrichment or face the threat of "further measures" if necessary to ensure compliance.
Russia and China, another veto-wielding permanent Security Council member, have said they will not support sanctions.