Friday, February 26, 2010

Medvedev Calls for "Responsible Behaviour" from I.R. Iran

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Agence France Presse (AFP) /

Iran must act responsibly and transparently to end the standoff over its nuclear programme, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday, in a fresh sign of Moscow's growing impatience with Tehran. "I think the way out of this situation is responsible behaviour by Iran itself," Medvedev said in an interview with the French magazine Paris-Match, according to a text posted on the Kremlin website. "We believe that Iran's nuclear programmes should conform to the demands of international organisations like the IAEA, and also that work in this area should be transparent for oversight," he added. "So far, unfortunately, there are many problems here." The Kremlin has shown growing irritation with Iran in recent weeks and has said it could not exclude a new round of UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its disputed nuclear programme. As a permanent, veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, Russia would need to give its support in order for the international community to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran. In an interview with Echo of Moscow radio, Russia's EU envoy said the lack of results in talks with Iran were forcing Moscow to increasingly consider backing such sanctions. "The dialogue is ongoing with Tehran, but it has not yet produced the results which we were counting on," Vladimir Chizhov said. "This is forcing Moscow to consider sanctions. "As to how these sanctions will be carried out, that will be a topic of negotiations," he added.

Moscow is opposed to "strangling Iran" with punishing economic sanctions and would prefer more narrowly targeted measures, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the RIA-Novosti state news agency. "We do not want measures to be taken using the pretext of violating the non-proliferation regime that are aimed at other kinds of goals, including the goal of 'strangling Iran,' measures that would really worsen the humanitarian situation, the state of the population," Lavrov said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose country is a top ally of the United States in the Middle East and Iran's arch foe, has called for "crippling" sanctions that would hurt the Iranian energy industry. The United States and its Western allies believe Iran is seeking to build an atomic bomb under the guise of its civilian nuclear programme, though Tehran insists the programme is peaceful in nature. Moscow, which had enjoyed close ties with Tehran for many years, was angered in recent months after Iran rejected an UN-brokered plan to resolve the nuclear standoff and moved to step up uranium enrichment. Russian officials confirmed earlier this month that a controversial sale of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Tehran had been delayed, though they attributed the delay to technical reasons.