Russia Opposes Sanctions Against Iran Over Nuke Program

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Russia made clear Saturday that it opposes a Western push for new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

Russia spoke out against a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Tehran at a meeting of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany in Washington on Friday, the Foreign Ministry said.

Russia stressed the need to draw Tehran into "constructive dialogue," the ministry statement said. "In this context we spoke out against the development at this time of new measures along U.N. Security Council lines."

The U.S. and other nations suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons under the guise of an atomic energy program. Russia, which has close ties to Iran and is building its first nuclear power plant, says it is not convinced.

Russia agreed to three previous rounds of U.N. sanctions, but along with China has slowed down their passage and ensured they were less punitive than measures the U.S. was seeking.

The U.S. and its European allies are pushing for quick passage of a fourth sanctions resolution to show the international community's resolve amid a crisis in Moscow's ties with Washington and Brussels over last month's conflict in Georgia.

Friday's meeting brought together senior diplomats from the permanent Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia, the U.S. — and Germany before talks among their leaders next week on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session.

They had not been expected to decide what the timing or content should be for a fourth Security Council resolution, and were able to produce only a broad call for Iran to accept incentives it has been offered to halt suspect activities and cooperate with a U.N. investigation, the U.S. State Department said.