Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

Russia to be quizzed over nuclear aid to Iran

  • VLADIMIR PUTIN - much to talk about with the EU (Photo: NATO)

The sensitive issue of Moscow’s nuclear assistance to Iran will be raised by EU leaders during the twice-yearly EU-Russia summit which takes place today in Rome, the EUobserver has learned.

At the meeting, EU representatives will ask Russian President, Vladimir Putin, for more details of a deal that has seen Moscow help build the controversial Bushehr nuclear reactor - which some allege is a crucial part of Tehran's strategy to acquire nuclear weapons.

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European concerns about Bushehr have lead to a series of low-key discussions between the EU and Russia, but few details are known about the outcome of these talks.

Worried?

A Commission spokesperson told the EUobserver that the matter would be raised, but as long as the deal did not break any international rules on the use of nuclear material, and that spent nuclear material was returned to Russia, the cooperation would give no cause for concern.

The Spokesperson however, refused to say if the information which the EU currently holds about nuclear cooperation between the two countries raises cause for concern.

Despite Iran apparently agreeing to return spent fuel to Russia, the EU will no doubt continue to be concerned that the know-how gained by Iranians in running Bushehr could be used for further projects.

Best offices

Russia has been a key player in convincing Iran to agree to sign up to intrusive inspections by international observers, which Tehran agreed to do during a visit by the three EU foreign ministers to the country last month.

Coming after months of pressure, Tehran’s announcement was seen as a major, albeit qualified vindication, of the EU’s policy of constructive engagement with Iran.

But with questions remaining as to whether Iran will follow through with the promises last month to European leaders and the situation still tense, Brussels is now coming under fire for some aspects of its policy.

The EU is being urged in some quarters to initiate a regional security dialogue as a way of addressing some of the many security issues in the region.

"The EU needs to stop having to react to a negative agenda", Steven Everts of the Centre for European Reform told the EUobserver, "Iran does have some legitimate security concerns".

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