Putin removes ban on nuclear cooperation with Iran; Moscow begins supplying Teheran with anti-missile rocket system

MOSCOW (AFP, REUTERS) - President Vladimir Putin on Monday (Nov 23) lifted a ban on Russian firms from working on Iranian enrichment sites as he travelled to Teheran for his first visit since 2007.

Iran’s ambassador to Russia meanwhile said Moscow had started the procedure of supplying Teheran with S-300 anti-missile rocket system, according to the Tasnim news agency.

Russia and Iran signed a contract for Moscow to supply Teheran with S-300 surface-to-air missile systems on Nov 9.

A decree Putin signed on Monday enables Russian firms to work with Iranian companies on the Fordo enrichment site and help Teheran in redesigning its Arak nuclear reactor.

Russian companies can now also carry out activities linked to Iranian exports of enriched uranium of more than 300kg in exchange for the supplies of natural uranium to Iran, the Kremlin decree said.

Under a historic July deal with world powers, Iran agreed to dramatically scale back its nuclear programme, making it much more difficult for it to develop nuclear weapons.

Teheran agreed to slash by two-thirds the number of centrifuges, machines that can "enrich" or purify uranium to make it suitable for peaceful uses but also for a nuclear weapon.

Russian companies are eyeing business opportunities after sanctions on Iran are lifted, expected in the next two months, as the nuclear deal reaches its "implementation" stage.

Putin arrived in Teheran on Monday for talks with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, with the Syrian conflict expected to be high on the agenda.

The one-day visit will also see Putin take part in a summit of gas exporting countries.