Middle East Online: Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed concern about Iran's atomic programme on Tuesday and said it must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.
"Russia has cooperated with Iran and we will continue to do so, but like our European colleagues France, Germany, Britain, and the US, we are concerned by the fact that questions are being raised about Iran's nuclear programme," Putin said. Middle East Online

Russian President says his country is categorically against enlargement of club of nuclear powers.

SOCHI, Russia - Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed concern about Iran's atomic programme on Tuesday and said it must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.

"Russia has cooperated with Iran and we will continue to do so, but like our European colleagues France, Germany, Britain, and the US, we are concerned by the fact that questions are being raised about Iran's nuclear programme," Putin said.

"We are categorically against an enlargement of the club of nuclear powers, and that includes Iran," Putin said after talks with the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac.

Russia is constructing Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr despite international protests, although negotiations over price and logistics are holding up the launch.

But the United States and Israel say Iran, a major oil and gas producer, has no need for nuclear power and accuse it of only seeking weapons.

"We are in negotiations with our Iranian partners. We are going to try to obtain certain guarantees from them, including in the form of agreements. This problem can and must be examined by the international community, at this stage in the framework of the IAEA (the UN atomic agency)," said Putin.

Putin's comments were echoed by Schroeder, whose country along with Britain and France has been pushing Iran to abandon its nuclear fuel cycle work altogether, in addition to not enriching uranium.

"The situation gives reason for worries about Iran. No one should be brought under suspicion wrongly ... The worry is that Iran is not following the agreement to the letter.

"There will be cooperation between the three European countries and Russia. We want together to prevent Iran getting atomic weapons," Schroeder said.

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