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Russia criticizes U.S. sanctions against arms exporter - 2

Russia's foreign minister said on Friday that the sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia's state-run arms exporter contravene international law, and will harm ties with Washington.
(Adds Foreign Ministry, Rosoboronexport statements in paras 8-10, 14-16)

MOSCOW, October 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister said on Friday that the sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia's state-run arms exporter contravene international law, and will harm ties with Washington.

The economic sanctions against Rosoboronexport were imposed under the U.S. Non-Proliferation Act on Iran, North Korea and Syria.

"The United States introduced these sanctions without any basis in international law. We will take this into account in our relations with the United States," Sergei Lavrov told a news conference.

Sanctions were also imposed on the same grounds against Venezuela, China, North and South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, and Syria, as well as Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

Washington says the sanctions target firms that sell items that could "make a material contribution to the development of weapons of mass destruction or cruise or ballistic missile systems."

Lavrov insisted that the sanctions would not force Russia to make concessions on Iran's nuclear program.

"If some people in Washington think that this will make Russia more amenable to U.S. approaches with regard to the Iranian nuclear problem, they are mistaken," he said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in an official statement on Friday that the sanctions against Rosoboronexport were "an unfriendly act" that would harm discussions on the Iranian nuclear issue.

"We consider this recurrence of American unilateral sanctions against a Russian organization to be an unfriendly act, which will have a negative impact on our dialogue with Washington, including in the context of discussions of the Iran Six international mediators on the resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem," the statement said.

The ministry also said: "It is high time for the United States to make up its mind on whether it is ready to continue cooperation within the Iran Six, working on the basis of coordinated approaches."

The Iran Six international mediators are Russia, the U.S., China, France, Great Britain, and Germany.

The sanctions against Rosoboronexport are valid for two years, and bar any U.S. aid, contracts or arms sales to the blacklisted entities. The order was signed on October 16, and came into effect on Thursday.

A Rosoboronexport representative on Friday called the sanctions a "manifestation of unethical competition."

"We view the imposition of sanctions with regard to the sole Russian facilitator of arms sales as a manifestation of unethical competition," Vyacheslav Davydenko told reporters.

The company said in an official statement that it links the U.S. sanctions to the rise in Russian arms exports.

"The United States is deliberately trying to use administrative resources to hold Russia back in the implementation of foreign trade and foreign policy activities, in particular in the sphere of military-technical cooperation with foreign states," Rosoboronexport said.

The company noted that the U.S. State Department announced the sanctions almost immediately after the publication of results showing Russian arms exports grew 23% in the first nine months of 2008. The company said this "did not suit the United States, frustrating its plans."

In July and December 2006, the United States also imposed sanctions on Rosoboronexport for allegedly passing on equipment to Iran that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction.

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