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No proof Iran developing N-weapons, says Russia *LINK*

Posted By: wtnf
Date: 17, September 03, at 7:29 p.m.

VIENNA: Russia, which is helping Iran build a nuclear power plant, said on Tuesday there was no proof Tehran had the technical capability to build a nuclear weapon at the present time.

However, Russiaís Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev told a news conference at the International Atomic Energy Agency that much of (Iranís) nuclear technology is dual use (which) could be used in either a civilian or military nuclear programme.

Rumyantsev said there was no proof Iran was secretly developing weapons and certainly no proof that it had the technical ability to make an atomic bomb at this point.

After intense US lobbying, the governing board of the IAEA passed a resolution on Friday giving Iran until October 31 to enable the IAEA to verify that it is not diverting nuclear resources to a secret weapons programme.

Rumyantsev said he planned to forge ahead with plans to construct the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, even though diplomats said Washington was putting strong pressure on Moscow to abandon the 1,000-megawatt, $800-million project.

Meanwhile, according to Iranís state news agency IRNA former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has accused the United States of being anti-Muslim by pressuring Tehran over its nuclear programme.

"They are pressuring us because they do not want the Islamic world to be equipped with up-to-date science and technology," Rafsanjani, who heads Iranís top political arbitration body, was quoted as saying.

"If Iranís regime were not an Islamic one, the US would definitely not try to stop our nuclear activities," the charismatic cleric told a gathering in the north-eastern city of Mashhad. His remarks on the nuclear stand-off came after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Tehran Friday to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, reveal whether it was enriching uranium to weapons-grade level and accept an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that would allow for unannounced IAEA spot checks.

Earlier,a Russian arms producer accused by Washington of selling weapons to Iran countered on Tuesday by charging that the United States is seeking to muscle it out of a specialised arms market.

The US State Department earlier announced sanctions against the Russian firm Tula Design Bureau of Instrument Building (Tula KBP) for selling "lethal military assistance" to Iran, a country that Washington has designated a "state sponsor of terrorism."

The sanctions include a one-year ban on all US assistance, contracts and licenses to Tula KBP, a major state-owned arms manufacturer located 200 kilometres (120 miles) south of Moscow.

However Tula KBP spokesman Valery Vozbranny, quoted by the ITAR-TASS news agency, said the sanctions were aimed at harming the companyís position as a leader in anti-tank weapons, in which we outperform our US competitors.

"Our company has no current contacts and has had no contacts in the post-Soviet period (since 1991) with Iran in the military-technical area," Vozbranny said.

"Weapons produced by Tula KBP have never been delivered to this country and are not currently being delivered," he said.

The State Department has accused the firm of selling laser-guided artillery shells to Iran. Washington has previously imposed sanctions against Tula KPB for arms sales to Iraq and Syria.

Earlier, the US accused the Russian government of selling weapons to Iran, but waived sanctions against Moscow in the US national interest. And in a related matter, the department said its top arms control diplomat, John Bolton, would leave for Moscow for two days of talks on non-proliferation issues.

Original Article

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