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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 19:55 GMT
Bush backs Russian plan for Iran
Natanz nuclear facility in Iran
Iran insists it has the right to produce nuclear energy of its own
US President George W Bush has given public support to a Russian proposal to resolve the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme.

He said he would agree to the programme if all the nuclear fuel was produced in Russia and transported to Iran under United Nations supervision.

The UN's nuclear watchdog is meeting in Vienna on 2 February to ponder sending Iran to the UN Security Council.

Tehran denies US accusations that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran wants further talks amid some reluctance to give up control of a key part of the nuclear cycle.

The Iranians have said 'We want a weapon' and it's not in the world's interests that they have a weapon
George W Bush
US President

"The Russians came up with the idea and I support it... because I do believe people ought to be allowed to have civilian nuclear power," said Mr Bush.

But he added that he did not believe "non-transparent regimes that threaten the security of the world should be allowed to gain the technologies necessary to make a weapon".

Russia should also collect nuclear waste of use in weapons, he added.

"The Iranians have said 'We want a weapon' and it's not in the world's interests that they have a weapon," Mr Bush said in Washington.

It was not immediately clear to what Iranian statement the US leader was referring.

'A beginning'

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is meeting in Vienna on 2 February.

IRAN'S NUCLEAR STAND-OFF
Sept 2002: Work begins on Iran's first reactor at Bushehr
Dec 2002: Satellites reveal Arak and Natanz sites, triggering IAEA inspections
Nov 2003: Iran suspends uranium enrichment and allows tougher inspections
June 2004: IAEA rebukes Iran for not fully co-operating
Nov 2004: Iran suspends enrichment under deal with EU
Aug 2005: Iran rejects EU plan and re-opens Isfahan plant
Jan 2006: Iran re-opens Natanz facility

It is thought to be split over whether to refer Iran to the Security Council, and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the IAEA's latest report on Iran might not be ready until March.

The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, welcomed Moscow's plan as the possible "beginning of a solution".

China, which opposes sanctions against Iran at this stage and has the right to veto them at the UN Security Council, also welcomed the Russian proposal.

It was a "good attempt at breaking the stalemate", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said while Iran's nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, visited Beijing.

'Useful idea'

Mr Larijani called the Russian proposal "useful" and said Iran stood by its "right to peaceful nuclear energy".

Iran has consistently denied US-led accusations that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, insisting its nuclear programme is for producing electricity.

The Russian plans would limit Iran's ability to covertly produce fissile material for possible use in a nuclear weapon by carrying out uranium enrichment in Russia.

Few details have been released about the Russian proposal.

Iran is thought to be keen that its own scientists are involved in enrichment.

Iran is a major supplier of oil to China's fuel-hungry economy.


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See Iran's nuclear envoy in China to discuss the plan



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