MOSCOW – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday criticized the U.N. nuclear agency's report on Iran, saying it "contains nothing new" and provides no further evidence that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons.
Lavrov spoke to journalists from Russian news agencies traveling back with him from an international summit in Hawaii.
They quote him as saying that last week's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency report seemed intended to "stir up passions in public opinion and prepare the ground for imposing some kind of unilateral sanctions" against Iran.
Lavrov repeated Russia's opposition to any new U.N. sanctions.The IAEA report strongly suggested that Iran is using the cover of a peaceful nuclear program to produce atomic weapons.
He told Russian journalists that the decision was prompted by Western pressure to oust Assad.
"We don't think this is right," Lavrov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. "And it looks planned."
Russia, which had close political and military ties with Syria during Soviet times, has opposed a Western push for sanctions against Assad's regime.
Moscow also has continued to provide Syria with weapons despite U.S. and Israeli protests.