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QUESTION: Another question about nuclear weapons, this time about Iran. We have a question from Iran: what will Russia's position be on Iran's nuclear program if Iran won't accept the package of incentives that the international community is offering? Will Russia in that case support sanctions?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We believe that any country, including Iran, has a right of access to high technology in order to develop its economy. That of course concerns Iran in full measure. The development of nuclear technology of course should proceed under the control of international bodies and is the first thing. And the second is that it should proceed without creating any threats regarding the development of any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. So we'll be insisting on compromise decisions that would allow us to resolve this two-pronged problem. Russia has formulated a number of suggestions that would allow Iran and some other countries access to modern nuclear technology. What do we propose to do? We would suggest creating a network of international centres dealing with the enrichment and utilisation of nuclear fuel. We hope that our Iranian partners will listen to the proposals our six countries have made. My latest meeting with President Ahmadinejad of Iran showed that Tehran has taken a positive attitude to these proposals. But we'd like their reaction to be quicker. We would like the dialogue based on these proposals to be more constructive. We very much expect this.
QUESTION: You might hope that Iran will agree to a compromise but you could wait and wait for a long time. Isn't there a point at which the UN has to take a strong stand and agree to sanctions?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I agree with you that we cannot wait endlessly - it's counterproductive. But it's even more counterproductive to get the problem into an impasse from where we won't know how to get out. For this reason I wouldn't want to get ahead of myself and talk about sanctions. At this point I would concentrate my attention on carrying out the proposals that have been formulated by the six countries. In my view they're constructive proposals and Russia has taken an active part in formulating them. And I understand that the Iranian leadership is ready to engage in a dialogue on the basis of these proposals in August. But in our opinion this could happen even sooner. As someone who is hosting the G8 summit in St Petersburg this month, I would have liked to see the dialogue begin before the leaders of G8 countries arrive.
But of course in these circumstances we have to take into account the position of the Iranian authorities. I will repeat again that today I do not think we should get ahead of ourselves and force the situation, we should allow professionals to handle the situation. And finally, I would prefer this problem not to be taken back to the Security Council or to talk about sanctions. I would like this issue to be taken back to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], to professionals. I think this is possible, provided of course that the Iranian authorities react positively to our proposals.
QUESTION: If I understand rightly then, the cut off point for an Iranian response is August, but even then you want discussion to continue in Vienna. At this point we are not talking about sanctions.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is not our position, this is the position of all six countries including the European Three and the United States. And Russia participated in developing this position and will continue to adhere to the common agreement.
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