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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Denies Proposal To Lift Iran Sanctions

WASHINGTON -- The United States declined Thursday to make a deal with Russia to lift sanctions against leading nuclear research institutes until they stopped working with Iran.

Responding to an offer by Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov, a U.S. State Department spokesman said, "We would like to see action taken to remedy the problem before the penalties can be reconsidered."

Adamov, who made the offer Wednesday, said he would take it up with U.S. officials in Washington. If the sanctions were lifted the firms would end cooperation with Iran, he said.

State Department spokesman James Foley said Thursday that in addition to published remarks by Adamov, "we've heard that in the last weeks" in private contacts with the Russians.

In January, President Bill Clinton's administration barred 10 Russian research centers from doing any work in the United States on the grounds that the institutions were providing Iran with technology that could help it develop weapons of mass destruction.

Containing Iran's nuclear program is a key foreign policy objective of the Clinton administration.

"We welcome statements by Minister Adamov that Russia is willing to curtail illicit cooperation with Iran's nuclear program," Foley said. "This is a potentially positive statement on his part."

The spokesman went on to underscore that Russia was still cooperating with Iran and that was of serious concern to the administration.

The issue is due to be taken up next week at meetings in Washington of a joint commission headed by Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Adamov, at a news conference Wednesday in Moscow, said Russia would continue nuclear cooperation with Iran in spite of U.S. misgivings.

But he confirmed a New York Times report that Moscow had severed contact between Iran and the Scientific Research and Design Institute for Power Technology, or NIKIET, to try to allay U.S. concerns.

In January, Washington imposed sanctions on the Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology and NIKIET for making "material contributions to Iran's nuclear weapons program."

Seven other scientific bodies were penalized last July, days after Iran test-fired a missile with a range of 1,300 kilometers capable of striking Israel and Russia.

Adamov, who headed NIKIET for 12 years, said the institute had had no contact with Iran since September.

He told The New York Times he wanted to sign a document in Washington affirming that NIKIET's ties with Iran had been severed and also stipulating the same for Mendeleyev University.

"Ongoing Russian cooperation with Iran remains a serious concern that we are discussing intensively with the government of Russia," Foley said.

"If the Russian aim is to halt that kind of cooperation with Iran, that is a good statement. What we want to see, though, is the action taken to eliminate the problem so we can verify the cooperation has ceased. And in that context, we will be looking to look at the penalties," he added.