Iran General NewsU.S. says Russia must freeze arms deals with Iran

U.S. says Russia must freeze arms deals with Iran

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Reuters: Russia must stop any arms deals with Iran and other nations must bar the sale of dual-use technologies to Tehran to put pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said on Friday. By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia must stop any arms deals with Iran and other nations must bar the sale of dual-use technologies to Tehran to put pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

“It’s time for countries to use their leverage against Iran,” said senior U.S. State Department official Nicholas Burns, adding: “We think it’s very important that countries like Russia freeze any arms sales planned for Iran.”

Washington wants Moscow to cancel the planned sale to Iran of Tor tactical surface-to-air missiles. Moscow and Tehran say they are for defensive purposes and Russia wants to go ahead with the deal.

“We hope and we trust that that deal will not go forward,” said Burns of the Tor deal.

Burns, who met in Moscow this week with officials from Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain to plan strategy against Iran, said nations must pressure Iran individually as well as collectively at the U.N. Security Council.

Washington has failed to convince veto-wielding nations China and Russia to adopt sanctions against Iran and Russia said on Friday the Security Council should only consider such measures if it had proof Tehran was trying to build a bomb.

It could take months before the United Nations might act against Iran and Burns said a group of countries could work together outside of the Security Council to isolate Iran diplomatically and economically.

Burns played down divisions between Russia, China and even some European allies over how to tackle Iran and said there was a “sense of urgency” among nations at the Moscow meeting to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, especially after it announced last week it had begun the enrichment of uranium.

Russia has also rejected a call from the United States, which has long maintained its own trade embargo on Iran, to halt work on the Islamic Republic’s Bushehr nuclear power station.

Russia’s state atomic energy agency is contracted to help Iran build the $1 billion reactor.

The State Department’s arms control chief, Robert Joseph, said the Iranians had “both feet on the accelerator” in terms of their nuclear program.

“We are very close to that point of no return. And I think that’s a view that is shared by many others,” said Joseph, who lobbied Arab nations last week to isolate Iran.

A meeting among political directors from the six countries is expected to take place in Paris on May 2 and the group would try then to reach an agreement on what diplomatic action to take next against Iran, Burns said.

In addition, he said the Group of Eight industrialised nations would focus on Iran at their July summit.

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