World News

Iran lawmaker says Moscow "manipulated" by West

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A senior Iranian lawmaker hit back at Russia on Tuesday after an unprecedented Kremlin rebuke over Iran’s nuclear programme, saying Moscow risked being manipulated by Western spies.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that it was obvious Iran was gaining the ability to develop a nuclear bomb, the strongest signal yet that the Kremlin is moving closer to the West’s position on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Medvedev’s comments were welcomed in Washington as a sign of international unity behind a harder line toward Tehran, which denies accusations by Western powers that it is seeking atomic weapons.

“A powerful country like Russia should not be manipulated by American and British intelligence services,” said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament’s Foreign Affairs and National Security committee.

“Medvedev’s remarks are based on false information gathered by western agents,” he told the semi-official Fars news agency.

Russia has been Iran’s main international nuclear partner and is building Iran’s first nuclear power plant near the southern port city of Bushehr, which is set to begin operations later this year.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has made a priority of seeking Moscow’s support for its tougher line toward Tehran, and appears to have had increasing success in recent months.

Russia backed a U.N. Security Council resolution on June 9 to impose new sanctions on Iran, and Russian officials have expressed frustration at what they describe as Iran’s failure to disclose full details of its nuclear programme.

The United States, its European allies and Israel fear Iran is trying to build atomic weapons under the cover of its civilian nuclear programme. Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate power.

“Our nuclear programme is peaceful and we work in the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” Boroujerdi said.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Peter Graff