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Russia speaks against excessive sanctions on Iran

Russia will refuse to back excessive sanctions against Iran, suspected of secret plans to build nuclear weapons, the foreign minister said Wednesday.
MOSCOW, March 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will refuse to back excessive sanctions against Iran, suspected of secret plans to build nuclear weapons, the foreign minister said Wednesday.

"We agreed earlier to influence Iran gradually, taking account of the present situation, and we will not back excessive sanctions," Sergei Lavrov said, referring to a new resolution on Iran being drafted at the UN Security Council over Tehran's defiance to stop the enrichment of uranium.

Lavrov also said Wednesday that Russia saw no connection between it completing the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran and work on a UN Security Council resolution on Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

The minister said he had read The New York Times articles quoting some European officials as saying that Moscow had allegedly said there was a connection.

The UN Security Council will hold initial consultations Wednesday on a draft resolution to toughen sanctions against Iran for its refusal to end uranium enrichment activities and adhere to the previous resolution.

In a draft resolution circulated last week, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Russia, and Germany said they would impose a ban on Iranian arm exports and arm sales to Iran, restrict foreign trips for some Iranian officials and leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, an elite military unit commanded by the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The draft resolution also recommends countries and international financial organizations not to issue loans and grants to Iran, except for humanitarian purposes, and to freeze accounts of listed individuals and companies involved in nuclear and missile project program development.

The project authors believe a vote on the Iran resolution could be taken later this week.

Earlier, Dumisani Kumalo, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa to the UN Security Council, said his country planned to introduce amendments to the draft resolutions. Among other things, he spoke about a 90-day moratorium on the introduction of sanctions and an embargo against Iranian arms sales.

However, the UN Security Council's 5+1 Group is insisting on their draft resolution, saying it is balanced and well-grounded.

Simultaneously, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday Iran would not cede its right to develop peaceful nuclear technologies even under threat of new sanctions.

"Under no circumstances, will Iran give up its right [to access nuclear energy for peaceful purposes], but is committed to continuing talks to find a solution," he said in an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) Tuesday.

On a visit to the Republic of South Africa Mottaki discussed the Iranian nuclear problem with South African President Thabo Mbeki.

He said, "During my talks with the South African president, the idea of trilateral talks with Iran, the head of the UN Security Council and representatives from the 5+1 group was discussed.

The Iranian foreign minister also accused the British government of attempts to undermine the efforts of some UN Security Council non-permanent members to find a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear problem.

In response to Iran's unwillingness to give up its nuclear ambitions, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1737 last December, which provided for sanctions against Iran banning activities involving uranium enrichment, chemical reprocessing, heavy water-based projects, and the production of nuclear weapons delivery systems.

Iran's foreign minister said earlier Tehran is prepared to answer any questions about its nuclear research posed by the international nuclear watchdog.

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