Report: Iran requested assistance from Russia for its nuclear program. Source: THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

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Report: Iran requested assistance from Russia for its nuclear program

CNN says Tehran asked Kremlin for nuclear material and fuel; could shorten the time it would take to build a nuclear weapon

By TOI staff Today, 6:35 pm

This September 1, 2014 file photo, shows a nuclear research reactor at the headquarters of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Iran has requested assistance from the Kremlin for its nuclear program in the event that it fails to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with Western powers, CNN reported Friday.

Citing US intelligence officials briefed on the matter, the network reported that Iran asked Russia for nuclear material and fuel. These could shorten the time it would take to build a nuclear weapon.

However, it was not clear if Moscow — which opposes the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran — had agreed to aid them in their efforts, according to CNN. Iran’s UN delegation and Russia’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request by the network for a comment on the report.

Negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have remained stalled for months.

On Monday, US special envoy to Iran Robert Malley said the US was not “wasting” time trying to pursue a new deal, adding that there had been no movement in the negotiations since Iran imposed new, unconnected conditions in August.

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“It’s really not our focus now,” he said.

Iran has said a delegation will travel to Vienna for talks with UN nuclear watchdog officials. The International Atomic Energy Agency has been pressing Iran to give answers on the presence of nuclear material at three undeclared sites, a key sticking point that led to a resolution criticizing Iran being passed at a June meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Wednesday he hoped that the IAEA would be able to resolve “accusations” brought against Iran, and that “we will be able to pass through this stage through technical cooperation.”

Iran has repeatedly said it wants the IAEA to drop its interest in the three sites — a position that the nuclear watchdog has rejected.

Since the collapse of the 2015 accord, Iran has greatly increased its uranium enrichment efforts, reaching levels Western officials have said have no credible civilian use, as well as installing new and more advanced centrifuges to further grow its stocks.

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