Russia says Ahmadinejad comments 'unacceptable'
Russia on Monday angrily slammed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's criticism of Moscow in the nuclear crisis as unacceptable and irresponsible, as tensions spiral with its traditional ally.
Ahmadinejad last week dubbed his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev the "mouthpiece" of Iran's enemies, in his strongest attack yet on Moscow after months of rising tensions between the Kremlin and the Islamic republic.
"For us the recent public statements of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are categorically unacceptable," a Russian foreign ministry statement said.
It said that Ahmadinejad's comments "distorted Russia's objective approach, our independent, constructive line towards the Iranian nuclear programme with the aim of finding a political and diplomatic resolution."
"We consider that instead of fruitless and irresponsible rhetoric, the Iranian leadership should take concrete, constructive steps towards the speediest regulation of the situation."
Iran is under four sets of UN sanctions over its refusal to heed repeated Security Council ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.
Iran says that it is enriching uranium purely for peaceful use, but Western powers are concerned that it intends to develop a nuclear weapon.
Russia is "counting on the speedy resumption of dialogue between Iran and the 'Six'," the ministry said in the statement, referring to nuclear talks between Tehran and a group of six major world powers, including Russia.
Russia, traditionally a diplomatic and economic ally of Iran, in the past took a milder line against Tehran than Western powers but recently has noticeably hardened its position, sparking anger in Tehran.
Medvedev declared earlier this month that Iran was close to having the potential to build a nuclear weapon, the first time a Russian leader had warned so explicitly of the dangers of the Iranian nuclear programme.
In the face of rising tensions, the energy ministers of the two countries met earlier this month with energy-hungry Iran winning a pledge from Moscow to supply fuel, despite unilateral US and EU sanctions targeting its energy sector.
Iran is the world's fourth largest producer of crude oil, but imports 40 percent of its fuel needs because it lacks enough refining capabilities to meet demand.
© 2010 AFP