Report: Russia Regrets Iran's Decision to Continue Uranium Enrichment

Russia said Friday that it regrets Iran's decision not to halt uranium enrichment by Thursday's United Nations-ordered deadline, Russia's news agencies reported.

"We share the position of (the International Atomic Energy Agency) and express our regret that Iran has not fulfilled Resolution 1696 by the designated date and refused to stop work on uranium enrichment," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin was quoted as saying by Interfax and RIA- Novosti.

CountryWatch: Iran

The comments — the first since Thursday's deadline passed — underscored Russia's growing impatience with Iran, which is building an atomic power plant with Russia's help.

U.S. and other officials have said that no action will be sought against Tehran before a key European diplomat meets with Iran's atomic chief next week to seek a compromise.

Russia — along with China — is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and both nations are opposed to quick and harsh penalties.

Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, lashed out at the United States, calling it "tyrannical" and insisting Tehran would not be "bullied" into giving up the right to use nuclear technology. Other Iranian officials said the country could withstand any punishment.

U.S. President George W. Bush called for "consequences to Iran's defiance," saying the "world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran."

In a report Thursday, the Vienna-based IAEA confirmed Tehran had not halted uranium enrichment as demanded by the Security Council and said three years of IAEA probing had been unable to confirm "the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program" because of lack of cooperation from Tehran.

Iran denies it is trying to acquire atomic weapons in violation of its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, with the sole aim of producing electricity with nuclear reactors.