Iran Nuclear NewsRussia minister: No punishment for Iran

Russia minister: No punishment for Iran

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AP: Russia will not allow the U.N. Security Council to be used to punish Iran over its nuclear program, the foreign minister said. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia was ready to discuss ways to pressure Iran into accepting a broader international oversight of its nuclear program, but added that “any measures of influence should encourage creating conditions for talks.” Associated Press

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

Associated Press Writer

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia will not allow the U.N. Security Council to be used to punish Iran over its nuclear program, the foreign minister said. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia was ready to discuss ways to pressure Iran into accepting a broader international oversight of its nuclear program, but added that “any measures of influence should encourage creating conditions for talks.”

“We won’t be able to support and will oppose any attempts to use the Security Council to punish Iran or use Iran’s program in order to promote the ideas of regime change there,” Lavrov said Friday in an interview with the Kuwaiti News Agency KUNA which was posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry Web site Saturday.

On Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the U.N. Security Council and its decisions “illegitimate,” saying the world body was being used as a political tool by Iran’s enemies – the United States and Britain.

Iran has been locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program. A draft United Nations resolution on Iran is expected to be introduced in the Security Council early next week, and diplomats have said they would seek limited sanctions on Tehran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.

“We don’t see any logic to suspending uranium enrichment. Enrichment of uranium by Iran is a legal action derived from its membership rights in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters on Saturday.

“But we are ready to hold talks about the reason for enrichment,” he said.

Mottaki’s comments came a day after French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said her country would be willing to suspend the drive for sanctions if Iran takes steps toward resolving questions over its nuclear program. France, like Russia, has veto power on the Security Council.

Iran says its nuclear pursuits are peaceful and energy-related. But the United States and some in Europe accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Enrichment is a key process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a warhead.

Mottaki said Iran hoped Western countries would be open to negotiations.

“The time for language of force is over. The West has tested threats in our region. We invite them to sincerely return to talks,” he said.

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