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Russia, Iran to Ink Medical Isotope Export Deal

February 24, 2011

globalsecuritynewswire.org

An agreement is being finalized for Russia to export medical isotopes to Iran, the Russian state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom announced yesterday (see GSN, Feb. 22).

Israeli President Shimon Peres delivers a speech in Madrid today. Peres said the passage of two Iranian navy ships through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea showcased the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran (Javier Soriano/Getty Images).

A spokesman for the organization did not elaborate on the timing of the anticipated signing, RIA Novosti reported. Tehran’s need for molybdenum 99 and iodine 131 was addressed in talks between Iranian officials and Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko (RIA Novosti, Feb. 22).

The deal would involve transfers of each isotope from Russia to Iran every week, Interfax reported.

Under a 2009 bid put forward by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran would have exchanged 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium for material to fuel a medical isotope production reactor in Tehran. The Middle Eastern state ultimately rejected the plan worked out with France, Russia and the United States, which was aimed in part at deferring Iran’s ability to produce sufficient weapon material for a bomb long enough to more fully address U.S. and European concerns about Iranian enrichment activities. Tehran has insisted its atomic ambitions are strictly peaceful.

Iran since December has two rounds of talks with Germany and permanent U.N. Security Council member states China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The meetings produced no breakthroughs in the nuclear impasse, despite hopes in some quarters for an updated version of the nuclear material trade (Interfax I, Feb. 22).

Meanwhile, Israeli President Shimon Peres today said Iran’s deployment of two warships to the Mediterranean Sea demonstrated the danger the Middle Eastern nation could pose if it acquired nuclear weapons, Reuters reported. The ships traveling to Syria yesterday became the first Iranian military vessels to move through the Suez Canal since Iran’s 1979 revolution.

“This is a cheap provocation by Iran. The passage of the ships does not in itself present a threat on our region, but the real threat, clear as a warning light, is to Europe and the entire world,” Peres said during a speech in Spain. “Iran is developing nuclear weaponry … and when nuclear weapons fall into the hands of terror groups, or Iranian proxies, European capitals will be under an existential threat” (Williams/Irish, Reuters, Feb. 23).

“You are sleeping. One day you will wake up with nuclear warheads pointed at Madrid,” Ynetnews quoted him as saying (Ronen Medzini, Ynetnews, Feb. 23).

Elsewhere, British Prime Minister David Cameron today said his nation would keep working with its allies to curb Iran’s disputed atomic activities, the BBC reported.

“Iran remains a grave concern because of its intent to acquire nuclear weapons,” Cameron said. “They are already suffering from international sanctions; their economy is weak and vulnerable and the regime only survives by cracking down on its political opposition.

“On its current path Iran is set to become an international pariah state with no friends, no money, nowhere to go,” he said. “Britain and its international partners remain ready to negotiate and we are not going to be taken for a ride. We will continue to find ways to increase the pressure.

“We will work vigorously to ensure international sanctions are implemented and I have asked my officials to consider what more can be done in this important area,” Cameron added (BBC News, Feb. 23).

In Moscow, Russia’s envoy to NATO yesterday said Western powers led Iran to pursue its disputed atomic work, Interfax reported.

“Each time you need to ask yourself: what is pushing this country to arm itself? What is pushing a nation to curtail expenditure for the sake of its strategic protection and defense?” Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin asked.

“Had Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, there would have been no ground operation (see GSN, Feb. 17). You knew perfectly well that there was no such potential, this is why you got in there. And had it been there, there would not have been a single Marine on the Earth now,” the diplomat said.

In response to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, other nations decided, “If you have a strategic defense, a big, heavy nuclear bludgeon, then definitely no one will come near you, no one will meddle,” Rogozin said.

“So the motivation of the behavior of political elites which are trying to get hold of some ‘horror thing’ and means of delivering that ‘horror thing,’ politicians and diplomats must calculate and analyze such motivation,” he said.

The official reaffirmed Moscow’s stance that “political talks are the best way to remove tensions” in the standoff with Tehran (Interfax II, Feb. 22).

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