Do Not humiliate Iran Over Nukes-Russia's Putin Warns News

April 23, 2005

MOSCOW, Apr 23 (Reuters) Stopping Iran from developing a civilian nuclear programme will humiliate it and lead to serious consequences, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said in remarks published.

Russia is building an atomic power station in Iran, angeringthe United States which says Tehran may make weapons-grade plutonium out of the spent fuel as part of a secret nuclear weapons programme that Tehran denies having.

''Iran should not be made to feel frustrated with regard to using the latest scientific and technological advances,'' Putin said in remarks posted on official web site yesterday.

''Iran is our neighbour. It is a big country and to frustrate a country like Iran would be counter-productive and can lead to fairly difficult and serious consequences,'' he said. ''You cannot humiliate a country and a people like the Iranian people.'' His comments were made in an interview with Israeli television.

The Russian leader is to visit Israel as part of a tour of West Asia next week.

Russian engineers are finishing construction work on Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant, which is due to start up in 2006. Russia is also to supply nuclear fuel to the plant.

Moscow has been a staunch defender of Tehran's right to nuclear energy, but Putin's warning was unusually stark.

Washington has declined to rule out using force to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons, though it says diplomatic steps have not yet been exhausted.

Iran, OPEC's second largest oil producer, has long denied charges it is seeking nuclear weapons and says it needs nuclear power to generate electricity.











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