25 Feb 2012

West seeking regime change in Iran - Putin

12:28 pm on 25 February 2012

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the West of using fears over Iran's nuclear programme as a pretext to bring about regime change in Tehran.

Mr Putin said on Friday that Russia takes a different stance and will resist such efforts.

Russia has supported four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

But it opposes further sanctions, even though it says it, too, does not want Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

The BBC reports Mr Putin is campaigning to return to the presidency in an election to be held on 4 March. He was previously president from 2000-2008.

The West suspects Iran is seeking the technology to build a nuclear bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday that Tehran had not cleared up questions about possible military aspects of its nuclear programme.

The agency also said Iran had stepped up uranium enrichment in recent months.

In response, Iran insisted it was co-operating with the agency but defended its right to a civil nuclear programme.