Clinton faults Russia plan to complete nuclear power plant in Iran

Clinton faults Russia plan to complete nuclear power plant in Iran
# 18 March 2010 19:49 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday criticized Russia’s declaration that it would soon finish a nuclear power plant in Iran, saying the Islamic republic needs first to show it is not developing atomic weapons, APA reports quoting “The Washington Post”.
"In the absence of those reassurances, we think it would be premature to go forward with any projects at this time, because we want to send an unequivocal message to the Iranians," Clinton said at a news conference.
She spoke just hours after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia would complete the long-delayed Bushehr plant in a few months.
The issue was the most visible sign of discord in a visit that both sides celebrated as marking an improvement in relations since the Obama administration took office.
As part of that "reset" in relations, the two nuclear giants are nearing completion of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that will reduce their deployed long-range warheads by around one-quarter.
"We have every reason to believe we are now at the finish line," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters, adding that negotiations in Geneva were in their final stages.
On Thursday, at a meeting on nuclear energy in the city of Volgodonsk, Putin said that the start-up of the Bushehr power plant "is planned for this summer." Russia had agreed to build the reactor 15 years ago, but it has constantly been delayed.
Clinton said that Iran was entitled to develop civilian nuclear power. "It is a nuclear weapons program that it is not entitled to," she said. "If it reassures the world, or if its behavior has changed because of international sanctions" then Iran can go ahead with nuclear plants, she said.
Lavrov said that Russia thought it was important for Iran to be allowed to develop nuclear power so that it will stay in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the global pact that forbids non-nuclear powers from obtaining obtain the bomb, but allows them to pursue nuclear energy. Iran’s membership in the treaty means that it allows international nuclear inspectors to keep tabs on its facilities.