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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran's Top Nuclear Negotiator to Arrive in Moscow for Talks

Iran's top nuclear negotiator will be in Moscow for talks Friday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed Thursday.

Lavrov said Ali Larijani would hold talks at the Kremlin Security Council and the Foreign Ministry, and that Russia would push for a rapid start to international talks on the Iranian nuclear program.

"There have been no changes in Russia's stance," Lavrov was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass. "Any risks in this field are perceived by us very seriously, and for this reason we are urging the speedy beginning of talks on this problem."

Russia has rejected European-proposed United Nations sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to halt its suspected nuclear weapons drive, but Moscow appears to be applying its own pressure by threatening to delay a key nuclear power project.

Analysts say the Kremlin is determined not to push Iran into a corner like North Korea -- blaming tough U.S. policies for Pyongyang's recent nuclear test -- but Tehran's refusal to compromise has led to growing impatience in Moscow despite the two countries' close commercial ties.

Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the State Duma's International Affairs Committee, said Russia wanted guarantees from Tehran "that the Iranian nuclear program does not have a military character; that Iran does not plan to transform the current civilian program into a military one; that Iran ... intends to cooperate fully with [UN] inspectors and ultimately will seek a system of cooperation with the international community that will allow it to remove any suspicions," a posting on the pro-Kremlin United Russia party's web site said.

"Certainly, we will await Iran's agreement to freeze the current [uranium] enrichment program until all questions are removed," he said in the posting.