The Washington Times - September 19, 2008, 02:57PM

Stephen Hadley, the president’s national security advisor, said Friday that Iran’s recent defiance of international nuclear monitors is “troubling,” but expressed hope that Russia will continue to work with the U.S. on pressuring Tehran.

“It is not reassuring that Iran is not cooperating with the [International Atomic Energy Agency],” Mr. Hadley said during an interview with a small group of journalists at the White House. “Unfortunately it only increases the suspicion that the international community has as to what are the purposes of Iran’s nuclear activities.”

Mr. Hadley also said he was not sure if North Korea’s talk of restarting its nuclear weapon production activities was genuine or not.

“It’s hard to know whether their statements reflect a change in policy or are just the kind of negotiating we’ve seen before,” he said.

Pyongyang has been waiting for the U.S. to officially remove it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and says they have fulfilled their obligation by giving the U.S. a declaration of their past activities.

But the U.S. wants agreement on how to verify that North Korea has destroyed weapons and is no longer producing nuclear materials, and on who they might have given information or materials to.

As for Tehran, the European Union on Thursday issued a statement of regret “that Iran is refusing to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities,” and said Iran is not giving the IAEA answers to questions about their nuclear program, following the issuance of a report by the monitoring agency.

Mr. Hadley said that there will be “a call over the weeks ahead for greater pressure on Iran” to suspend its program.

President Bush will emphasize the topic on Tuesday in a speech to the United Nations in New York.

Iran maintains that they are enriching uranium only for power, but Mr. Hadley said their intransigence continues to raise questions about their motives.

“If they are as benign as the Iranians say then why is there such trouble getting a full account of what their activities are?” he said.

Mr. Hadley raised the prospect of a fourth resolution at the U.N. Security Council, but that has become more problematic in the last six weeks following the tension between the U.S. and Russia – a permanent member of the council –- over the Kremlin’s invasion of Georgia in early August.

Mr. Hadley insisted he was hopeful of continued cooperation.

“We have said and the Russians have said that we do not want to go back to a Cold War,” he said. “There has been some willingness on the Russian side and the American side to try to continue work together on issues of common interest, and Iran is such an issue.”

“Our hope is that they will continue to work with us on these kinds of important issues,” such as Iran and North Korea.