Russia Frustrated With Iran

VIENNA -- Russia is increasingly frustrated with Iran's reluctance to reduce international fears about its nuclear agenda and that anger is helping the United States and other nations seeking to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, diplomats said Thursday.

Most recently, the diplomats said, Iranian officials told the Russians on Wednesday they would not resume uranium conversion -- only to restart the process a few hours later.

The move to restart conversion was expected. Still, with Iran under international pressure to reduce concerns that it seeks full control of the uranium enrichment process to make weapons, Russia and other countries would have welcomed a decision not to resume conversion.

Senior Iranian officials told their Russian counterparts just that on Wednesday, saying a relaunch was postponed for "technical reasons," the diplomats revealed, agreeing to speak on condition of anonymity.

The Russians interpreted that as a signal that raised hopes of an easing of tensions a little more than two weeks before the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency meets in Vienna on Nov. 24 to consider possible Security Council referral.

But just hours later, the Iranian officials told the Russians that conversion had restarted, further eroding the Russian goodwill needed by Tehran to deflect the U.S. and European push for Security Council involvement, the diplomats said.

A European official speaking from outside Vienna said the reversal -- coming soon after Security Council head Igor Ivanov had briefed senior European Union officials about Iran's readiness to compromise -- embarrassed and angered the Russians.