(RIA Novosti) - The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Tehran was still considering a Russian proposal to set up a joint uranium enrichment and reprocessing venture with Iran on Russian soil, reports Trend.
Russian President Vladimir Putin floated the idea of an enrichment center at the beginning of the year to allay concerns in the West over uranium enrichment in Iran, and in September Russia proposed building it in Siberia. The top Russian nuclear industry official said the center could be set up under the control of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"We have not made a final decision on the proposal to set up a joint consortium [on uranium enrichment] and who will be invited to participate in this project," a ministry spokesman said in a statement.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed at the 2005 UN general Assembly that foreign enterprises, both private and state-owned, take part in uranium enrichment activities on Iranian territory.
"This initiative was discussed at the latest round of talks between Ali Larijani and Javier Solana as a good way to guarantee that Iran's nuclear program is a peaceful one," Hosseini said in his statement.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, recently held talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, in an attempt to persuade Tehran to accept a package of incentives, offered by countries mediating the issue, and to suspend uranium enrichment. However, no deal has yet been reached.
Earlier, Russia's nuclear chief said that the proposal to set up a joint plant for uranium enrichment and reprocessing with Iran in Russia remained in force.
"If Iran is unable to enrich uranium on its territory, then Russia is ready to offer its territory to set up such a joint venture," Sergei Kiriyenko said.
Kiriyenko also said Russia had no commercial interest in the joint venture, and that the proposal should be seen as part of efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem.
"We have no need to set up such a joint venture, as, thank God, we have 40% of the world's enrichment capacity, and we do not need any investment in our enrichment industry," he said. "Our proposals are our contribution to a possible resolution of the situation."