Russia warned Iran on Wednesday that if it fails to stop its nuclear enrichment program, Moscow will give its backing to United Nations sanctions being prepared by the West.
MOSCOW, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Russia warned Iran on Wednesday
that unless it ceases uranium enrichment within days Moscow will
support new United Nations sanctions being prepared by the West
against the Islamic Republic.
The ultimatum is the strongest signal yet that Russia is
toughening its stance towards Iran, which the United States,
Britain and France suspect of seeking nuclear weapons.
Russia's U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin said Moscow could back a
sanctions resolution the Western powers have drafted and which
they want to discuss in the Security Council this week.
"If Iran in the next few days does not stop the enrichment
activities of its heavy water project, then yes, Russia ... has
taken upon itself certain commitments ... to support the
resolution that has been drafted in the past month," Churkin
told reporters via a video link from New York.
"Russia is constantly insisting that the (U.N.) Security
Council adopt certain sanctions against Iran," he said.
Tehran denies it has a nuclear weapons programme and says it
has a right to enrich uranium.
Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security
Council, has in recent weeks criticised Iran's test launch of a
rocket and warned it not to ignore the international community.
It has urged Iran's leadership to give full information on
its nuclear programme to the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
Russia's support for sanctions appears to mark a shifting of
stance. Moscow has a long history of cooperation of Iran.
The new sanctions resolution formally submitted by France
and Britain calls for measures including asset freezes and
mandatory travel bans for individual Iranian officials.
It also expands the list of Iranian officials and companies
targeted by the sanctions. Earlier rounds of sanctions were
imposed in December 2006 and March 2007.
Russia is helping to build Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant and
this year finished delivering nuclear fuel to the plant under a
$1 billion contract, which Moscow says removes any reason for
Tehran to enrich uranium.
Iran, which has the world's second largest gas reserves,
last year proposed establishing an OPEC-style gas cartel with
Russia, the world's largest gas producer. The idea has met
strong opposition in Europe and the United States.
Moscow played down the Iranian proposal but its gas export
monopoly Gazprom agreed this month with Tehran to jointly
develop new phases of Iran's giant South Pars gas field.
Date created : 2008-02-27