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Russia says undecided on whether Iran is a threat

By Staff
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MOSCOW, May 5 (Reuters) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today said Moscow has yet to decide on whether Iran should be considered a threat, saying it would be guided by UN nuclear experts on the issue.

He was responding to remarks from his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, that Russia and China ''had officially told us ... (of) their opposition to sanctions and military attacks'' against the Islamic Republic.

''We have made no such announcements. In such an important and serious area like nuclear non-proliferation, we can make a decision only based on the opinions of experts,'' Lavrov told reporters.

''The inspections that have been held in Iran do not allow us to conclude that Iran has the technology to create weapons of mass destruction. But on the other hand, these inspections do not allow us to make the opposition conclusion.'' He spoke a day after discussion started between the five veto-holding members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- over a resolution demanding Iran curb its nuclear ambitions.

Britain, France and Germany, which are sponsoring the Council resolution, want it adopted by Monday and were due to meet again on Friday to push the case forward.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledged Tehran would keep up its uranium enrichment because it wanted to produce enough fuel to power its own atomic power stations.

Speaking to a regional conference in the Azeri capital Baku, he repeated the Islamic Republic's view that its nuclear programme was being undertaken in full accordance with international law and was open to international checks.

Iran has said it wants a negotiated end to the dispute but rejects calls to freeze enrichment, which Washington thinks is a prelude to producing nuclear weapons.

''We are set on continuing our path to industrial production of nuclear fuel for our nuclear power stations in line with international regulations and under the supervision of the IAEA (UN nuclear watchdog),'' said Ahmadinejad, in a copy of the speech given to reporters.

Russia has previously opposed sanctions against Tehran, saying they would be counterproductive.

REUTERS OM BD1610

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