23 October 2002

U.S. "Deeply Concerned" about Russian Assistance to Iran

State responds to question on Russian assistance on nuclear plant

The United States is "deeply concerned that Russian entities continue to provide important assistance to Iran's weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery programs," the State Department said October 23.

"If the Russians end their sensitive cooperation with Iran, we have indicated we would be prepared to favorably consider" transfers to Russia for storage of spent reactor fuel currently held by third countries, "an arrangement potentially worth over $10 billion [$10,000 million] to Moscow."

This statement was posted October 23 as an answer to a question taken at the previous day’s regular State Department press briefing.

Following is the text:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
October 23, 2002

Taken Question from October 22, 2002 Daily Press Briefing

RUSSIA-IRAN INCENTIVES


Question: What can we say about reports that we have offered economic incentives to Russia in return for their stopping work on the nuclear reactor in Iran and Bushehr?

Answer: Iran is aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons, as well as other weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles and advanced conventional weapons. The U.S. position is clear: a weapons of mass destruction-armed Iran would be a major threat, to Russia as well as to the United States and our friends and allies in the region.

We are deeply concerned that Russian entities continue to provide important assistance to Iran's weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery programs. President Putin has said that he shares our concerns but the Russians have denied that they are helping Iran with its weapons of mass destruction and missile programs.

We will continue to intensively work this issue closely at senior levels with Russia.

An end to Russian proliferation to Iran would allow the United States and Russia to reap the full promise of our new strategic relationship. That would benefit Russia economically, politically and strategically far more than any short-term gain from sensitive transfers to Iran.

One example is the potential transfer to Russia for storage of spent reactor fuel currently held by third countries, much of which requires U.S. approval for such transfer because the US originally supplied the fresh fuel to those countries. If the Russians end their sensitive cooperation with Iran, we have indicated we would be prepared to favorably consider such transfers, an arrangement potentially worth over $10 billion [$10,000 million] to Moscow.





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