Top government officials said Wednesday that Russia will not back down from selling nuclear reactors to Iran despite pressure from the United States to do so.
The statements by Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s spokesman, Sergei Medvedev, and Deputy Foreign Minister Albert Chernyshev came a week before a summit meeting here between Yeltsin and President Clinton in which both sides expect the proposed $1 billion reactor sale to be a major issue of contention.
The United States contends Iran is a rogue state bent on developing nuclear weapons and will be able to use Russian nuclear technology and assistance toward that end. On Sunday Clinton announced the cancellation of all U.S. trade with and investment in Iran.
Russian officials have strongly contested that view, saying the light-water reactors they have agreed to help Iran construct in Bushehr are not useful in making weapons and are in fact similar to reactors that will be provided to North Korea in a U.S.-brokered accord aimed at halting that nation’s development of nuclear weapons.
“We will stick to our position,” Chernyshev told the Russian news agency Interfax. “We are completely in the right in this case.”
Yeltsin’s spokesman said the contract meets all the requirements of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that Iran is in full compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said the IAEA had recently “reaffirmed that it bears no grudge against Iran.”
He suggested some compromise to “erase U.S. doubts” about the deal might be reached when Yeltsin and Clinton meet here on May 10 and 11. Chernyshev did not specify what kind of compromise he had in mind.