The Bush administration Monday tried to increase pressure on Russia to halt the supply of nuclear energy technology to Iran, citing a recent finding by a U.N. board that Tehran is in violation of its commitment to disclose its nuclear activities.
Stephen G. Rademaker, the acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said governments needed to rethink their nuclear trade policies in light of the Sept. 24 decision by the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The 35-member board declared Tehran in "noncompliance" with its obligations to report advances in its nuclear programs.
"We hope that all governments will take note of the board's finding of noncompliance and adjust their national policies accordingly," Rademaker said in a speech to the General Assembly disarmament committee. "We think it self-evident, for example, that, in the face of such a finding, no government should permit new nuclear transfers to Iran, and all ongoing nuclear projects should be frozen." Rademaker did not identify Russia by name, but that country is Iran's main nuclear trading partner. The Bush administration has sought for years to end that trade.
Rademaker urged Iran to resume negotiations with France, Germany and Britain, which are seeking assurances from Tehran that it has forsworn nuclear arms in exchange for a commitment to supply the country with nuclear fuel.
Russia maintains extensive nuclear trade ties with Iran, participating in an $800 million reactor construction program in the city of Bushehr.
While the Bush administration opposes Iran's construction of the Bushehr reactor, it has shown support for a Russian agreement to ship all reprocessed fuel rods back to Russia. One U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Rademaker's speech marked "a departure from that approach."
A spokesman for the Russian mission to the United Nations, Sergei Trepelkov, said Russia was committed to ensuring Iran remains free of nuclear weapons. "Iran is on our border," he said. "We are the first interested in seeing that Iran will never get nuclear weapons."
Iran is permitted to import nuclear technology to build a peaceful energy program, and it says emphatically that its atomic program is not aimed at making weapons. But Iran is required by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to disclose its nuclear plans and to permit inspections by the IAEA.
Staff writer Dafna Linzer in New York contributed to this report.