Iran's nuclear activities 'worry' Kremlin
Published 11/01/2012 | 05:00
Russia voiced rare "worry" over Iran's nuclear ambitions yesterday as the EU brought forward a meeting of foreign ministers to decide whether to impose a potentially crippling oil embargo.
The Kremlin, which generally opposes Western attempts to tighten United Nations sanctions, criticised Iran for starting to enrich uranium at up to 20pc purity inside a previously secret plant.
The facility, located at Fordow near the city of Qom, is buried beneath a mountainside.
A statement from the Russian foreign ministry said that Moscow had "with regret and worry received the news of the start of work on enriching uranium at the Iranian plant".
Iran only declared Fordow to the International Atomic Energy Agency after the facility was discovered by Western intelligence agencies.
Russia was also kept in the dark -- a fact that has damaged the Kremlin's relations with Iran.
However, Tehran retains a firm ally in the shape of Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, who publicly mocked the West's concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions yesterday during an ongoing visit to the country by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president.
Later this month, the EU is expected to maximise the economic pressure on Iran by agreeing an embargo on the country's oil.
A meeting of foreign ministers that will take the decision has been brought forward to January 23 from January 30.
The EU buys about 450,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day, with almost all of it going to Greece, Italy and Spain. (© Daily Telegraph, London)