Putin Urges More Control over Arms; Avoids Dispute with Bush on Iraq

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Byline: Sharon Behn, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

NEW YORK - Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the eve of a two-day Camp David summit with President Bush, sidestepped disputes over Iraq yesterday and urged greater effort to stop global proliferation of deadly weapons.

"These include further universalization of the existing nonproliferation regimes, the strengthening of international verification instruments and the introduction of safe technology in nuclear production and energy," Mr. Putin told the U.N. General Assembly.

He made no mention of Russia's building nuclear power plants in Iran, which the Bush administration views as part of an Iranian effort to make atomic weapons.

One of Mr. Putin's top foreign policy advisers defended Russian efforts to help Iran develop a nuclear power industry.

"Our cooperation with Iran in the nuclear field is not because we want the ayatollahs to have a nuclear bomb," said Mikhail Margelov. Rather, he said, it was a question of economics.

"I call it a wise economic approach: We have that branch of industry and it employs thousands of people. There should be money coming into our nuclear industry. If the project is on the table, somebody should get involved," he said in a telephone interview on the sidelines of the U. …