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Russia voiced its concern on Tuesday at the announcement that Iran had begun uranium enrichment at a new nuclear plant, a move that has triggered alarm in the West.

“Moscow has with regret and worry received the news of the start of work on enriching uranium at the Iranian plant,” the foreign ministry said in a statement published on its website.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Monday that Iran had begun enriching uranium at the Fordo underground bunker southwest of Tehran, a move Western powers have branded a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

“We have to note that Iran continues to ignore the demands of the international community on removing the anxiety over its nuclear programme,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

It called for all sides in the long-running dispute to “refrain from premature, hasty steps,” that could prevent the revival of talks between Iran and the group of six world powers, including Russia.

Russia also urged Tehran it needed “close cooperation” with the IAEA and called for “the soonest possible start of talks on the Iranian nuclear programme with the six without any preliminary conditions”.

Russia has relatively close ties with Iran and has built its first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr. Moscow has also delivered the nuclear fuel for the reactor.

Moscow has echoed Western concerns about the nature of Iran’s nuclear drive but has stopped short of publicly accusing Tehran of seeking atomic weapons and has always said that the standoff should be solved by diplomacy.

Khaleej Times

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