Iran says Russian nuclear weapon claim 'totally false'
Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki rejected Tuesday as "totally false" Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's statement that Iran is close to having the potential to build a nuclear weapon.
"The recent comments made by Medvedev regarding the Iranian nuclear theme are totally false and we deny them," he told a news conference in Madrid.
"We do not know what the ultimate goal behind these comments is, what operations are behind it... But we maintain our position clearly and we are doing nothing but claiming our rights," he added.
"Russia is our neighbour and we want to maintain good relations but we are critical of some of its positions."
In the clearest indication yet of Russian alarm over Tehran's atomic drive, Medvedev said on Monday that "Iran is nearing the possession of the potential which in principle could be used for the creation of a nuclear weapon".
Russia, traditionally a diplomatic and economic ally of the Islamic republic, in the past took a milder line against Tehran than Western powers but recently noticeably hardened its position.
Iran has over the past months been announcing steady advances in its nuclear programme, in defiance of international calls for Tehran to freeze its sensitive uranium enrichment operations.
Iran's clerical regime says that its atomic drive is solely for peaceful means, but Western powers -- and increasingly Russia -- worry that it is bent on developing a nuclear weapon.
Russia's tougher line on Iran has coincided with a warming of its relations with the United States. Washington has repeatedly praised Moscow for its support in the crisis.
© 2010 AFP