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US, Russia clash over Iran nuclear plant

The United States says Russia’s claim that Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant should go online this summer is ‘premature.’

“We think it would be premature to go forward with any project at this time because we want to send an unequivocal message to the Iranians,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a press briefing with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow.

Clinton made the remarks after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier said that Moscow would start up the long-delayed plant in mid-2010.

Clinton, however, added that “Iran is entitled to civil nuclear power.” But, she also claimed that Tehran’s nuclear drive “remains an issue of grave concern for the international community”.

“It is a nuclear weapons program that it is not entitled to and if it reassures the world, or if its behavior has changed because of international sanctions, then it can pursue peaceful nuclear power,” she said.

The US and its allies are against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. They accuse Iran of trying to develop a military nuclear program, a claim absolutely rejected by Tehran.

Iran is adamant its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and that it is aimed at producing electricity for its increasing domestic energy demand.

The United States and its mainly Western allies are stepping up efforts to rally support for a forth round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic for its refusal to bow to pressure by nuclear powers to halt its uranium enrichment activities.

Clinton noted that her country was still committed to diplomatic solution in resolving the dispute over the nuclear issue.

“We are as committed as we have been to a diplomatic solution, but there must be a solution. Iran is not living up to its international obligations,” she said.

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