Russia lifts ban on nuclear work in Iran

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday lifted a ban on Russian firms working on Iranian enrichment sites as he travelled to Tehran for his first visit since 2007.

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

Russian companies can now also carry out activities linked to Iranian exports of enriched uranium of more than 300 kilogrammes 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. Tehran 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 Tehran 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.

Missile deal
Meanwhile, Iran's ambassador to Russia said on Monday that Moscow had started the procedure of supplying Tehran with its S-300 anti-missile rocket system, according to Tasnim news agency.

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

"Iran and Russia signed a new contract and the procedure of delivery of S-300 has started," Iran's Ambassador to Russian Mehdi Sanaei was quoted as saying by Tasnim.