Iran Nuclear NewsRussia defies West over nuclear Iran

Russia defies West over nuclear Iran

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ImageSunday Times: Russia will resist western pressure for tougher United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, it said yesterday.

The Sunday Times

Nicola Smith, Brussels

ImageRUSSIA will resist western pressure for tougher United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, it said yesterday.

The announcement came after the Kremlin agreed to sell advanced antiaircraft systems to the Iranians, bringing condemnation from the US and adding to tensions over the Russian invasion of Georgia.

Calls for harsher sanctions followed a damning report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which said last week it was “gravely concerned” about Iran’s refusal to cooperate with inspectors looking into its uranium enrichment programme.

Talks in Washington on Friday between the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China ended in disagreement, although they will continue at the margins of this week’s UN general assembly. Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, threatened in frustration to block Russia’s membership of bodies such as the World Trade Organisation, because of its “authoritarian policies”.

A US State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, played down any expectations that a deal for a new UN resolution on sanctions could be agreed.

He added that Rice had appealed to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, to put aside differences on Georgia and “work together” over Iran. European diplomats echoed American pessimism.

“The Russians have always been very reluctant,” said a senior European official. “This resolution, if we get it, will be very weak.”

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