Iranian President Ahmadinejad (AFP photo)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he is looking to build a closer relationship with Moscow and expecting to see the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant — Iran's first — start producing electricity next year, after many delays.
He brushed aside suggestions that his previous meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev were clouded by disagreements and said the two neighbours could offer "joint solutions" to global problems.
"Nuclear weapons are the means of the previous century," Ahmadinejad told Russia Today television. "If any country tries to build a nuclear bomb, they waste their money and their resources," Ahmadinejad told the cable news network.
His comments came as Russia's Security Council secretary, Nikolai Patrushev, prepared to open two-day talks in Tehran on Monday during which he is also expected to meet his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
Patrushev's visit comes amid continuing efforts by Russia to revive Iran's negotiations with Western powers over its suspected nuclear weapons programme.
A Russian diplomat speaking to the Interfax news agency provided no details about what nuclear initiative Patrushev might be taking into the Ahmadinejad meeting. But Moscow has previously balanced pressure on Tehran to engage in more open negotiations with condemnation of Western sanctions and calls for a tougher international approach.
Medvedev last met Ahmadinejad 15 June in Kazakhstan during talks in which Russian officials said he urged Iran to adopt a more constructive position towards the West.
Yet Moscow has also recently criticised the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on some Iranian companies and firms because of the damage this may do to Russia's own business interests.
The Bushehr plant and continuing arms sales have provided an important economic link between Moscow and Tehran. Those ties have more recently frayed over delays at Bushehr that Iran blames on Russian politics and increasingly stronger pressure from the Kremlin for Iranian transparency.