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Iran to continue nuclear work, as Russia scuppers sanctions meet

©

Latest update : 2008-09-24

A meeting of world powers on further sanctions against Iran has been cancelled due to opposition from Russia, said US and Russian officials Tuesday, even as Iran's Ahmadinejad said they would continue nuclear enrichment in a UN speech.

NEW YORK/MOSCOW - Foreign ministers from major powers will not meet as planned this week in New York to discuss new sanctions against Iran due to Moscow's opposition, said U.S. and Russian officials on Tuesday.

 

"There is not going to be a ... meeting," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

 

In Moscow, Russia's foreign ministry, angered by U.S. calls for it to be penalized over its war with Georgia, said it saw no need for major powers to meet on Iran's nuclear program on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

 

"We see no 'fire alarm' which would require us to put off other things in the extremely busy week of the U.N. General Assembly and meet in emergency (session) on the Iranian nuclear problem," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said.

 

Nesterenko, whose comments were posted on the ministry's Web site (www.mid.ru), did not specify whether that meant Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would not now take part in a ministerial meeting of the six powers, planned for Thursday on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

 

McCormack confirmed later the meeting was off but said he did not know which side had notified the other first of the decision.

 

Five permanent U.N. Security Council members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- plus Germany are involved in diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

 

The New York meeting had been planned to discuss a fourth round of sanctions aimed at pressuring Iran to give up sensitive nuclear work the West thinks is aimed at building a nuclear weapon but which Tehran says is for civilian power purposes.

 

Russia, which has good ties with Iran and is building a nuclear power station there, has backed mild U.N. sanctions against Tehran but resisted strong punitive action.

 

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last week new sanctions were "untimely."

 

A meeting of senior officials from the six major powers held last Friday in Washington to consider new sanctions ended without agreement on either the timing or the content of a new U.N. resolution on Iran.

 

Russian resistance follows a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week in which she said the world must stand up to intensified Russian aggression.

 

Rice is set to meet Lavrov in New York on Wednesday.

 

Russia has been angered by Washington's rhetoric since the brief Georgian war last month.

 

"We would really want Washington to finally make up its mind on relations with Moscow," Nesterenko said.

 

"If they want to punish Russia, that is one thing. If they agree that we have common interests which need to be jointly promoted, then it's a different story. One can, say paraphrasing Condoleezza Rice's words, 'You can't have both.'"

Date created : 2008-09-24

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