Russia and the European Union have joined the United States in condemning Iran for starting work on uranium enrichment despite UN demands. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the use of force will not resolve the stand-off and practically all European countries are against it but he did not reiterate Moscow’s past opposition to sanctions. Yesterday Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the country had produced enriched uranium needed to make nuclear fuel for the first time.
Moscow, and now France, have described the move as a “step in the wrong direction” that goes against the decisions of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA chief Mohammed El-Baradei is expected to visit Tehran on Thursday to seek full cooperation with his inquiries and the UN Security Council.
He has to report back to the Security Council by the end of the month and his mission has now been further complicated by Ahmadinejad’s speech. If Iran has not halted its enrichment programme by then, there are likely to be fresh calls for sanctions amid Western fears it wants to develop atomic weapons.