Friday, September 01, 2006

Russia Calls Iran Sanctions "Dead end"

Christian Lowe, Reuters:
Russia's foreign minister cast new doubt on whether the U.N. Security Council can reach a quick consensus on punitive measures against Iran over its nuclear program when he called sanctions a "dead end" on Friday.

Iran faces the sanctions threat after the U.N.'s atomic watchdog said Tehran had refused to stop enriching uranium by a Thursday deadline. But Russia and China have so far opposed sanctions and could use their vetoes to block them.

"We take into account the experience of the past and we cannot ally ourselves with ultimatums, which all lead to a dead end," Interfax news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

"Yes, there are countries whose policies raise doubts, and cause discontent, but we all live in the same world and we need to ... draw them into dialogue, and not isolation and sanctions." READ MORE

Western countries, including the United States, and the European Union fear Tehran is using its nuclear research program as a cover for trying to make atomic bombs. Iran says it only wants to generate electric power.

Lavrov, who made the comments in a speech at Moscow's State Institute for Foreign Affairs, did not mention Iran specifically but it was clear he had the dispute in mind.

A confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran on August 24 resumed making low-enriched uranium, suitable for power plant fuel.

"Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities," said the report by the Vienna-based watchdog, leaked to Reuters on Thursday.

It also said Iran had failed to show enough transparency about its nuclear programme "to remove uncertainties associated with some of its activities."

The Security Council is not expected to begin discussing sanctions until after an EU-Iran meeting to explore hints from Iran that it could negotiate on the scope of its nuclear programme.

An EU diplomat said the bloc's foreign policy chief Javier Solana was tentatively planning to meet Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in Berlin on Tuesday.