Russia, the main foreign ally in Iran's effort to develop nuclear energy, has called on Tehran to suspend 'without delay' its nuclear fuel conversion work, saying the halt would not undermine its civilian nuclear power program.
Russia's appeal came as the UN nuclear watchdog cancelled a meeting in Vienna because diplomats remained locked in closed-door talks on an EU proposal to stop the work, which has raised concerns that Tehran is trying to pursue a nuclear weapons program.
'The wise decision would be to stop work that has begun on uranium conversion without delay,' the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
'We are convinced the situation that has arisen now has not gone beyond the point of no return. With goodwill it can be corrected.'
Russia plays a crucial role in Iran's nuclear power efforts, and has led the project for construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushehr.
It is difficult to judge what this means at this point. Russia could just be making so noise to play nice with Europe, or this could be an extremely serious warning to Iran that it has crossed the line and will get no diplomatic cover from Russia on this.
As always, Diplomacy is maze of public pronouncements and back channel messages, and we only get a small portion of the picture.
However, we can be pretty sure that this anouncement from Russia doesn't hurt, and it may well be very signifigant in helping the situation.
I dislike the Iranian regime greatly. They are bad people and are doing bad things. Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that absent nuclear weapons, we are best off waiting for internal change even though the cost of that decision is people being ground under the Mullah's boot.
A nuclear Iran is a different situation though. I do not think we can tolerate that.