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Tough Iran sanctions would backfire - Russia

Written by: Staff

BRUSSELS, Dec 5 (Reuters) Tough sanctions to punish Iran for pursuing uranium enrichment would be counter-productive, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said before major powers were due to meet to discuss possible measures today.

''We believe it is irresponsible to impose these kind of sanctions,'' Lavrov told reporters on the margins of a meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Brussels.

''We would achieve the opposite result if we do that,'' he said of Western efforts to get Russia and China to agree a U N Security Council resolution setting out penalties on Tehran for refusing to halt nuclear activities the West suspects are aimed at building an atom bomb -- a goal Tehran denies.

Lavrov reiterated Russian support for limited sanctions. ''We deem it necessary to back proposals aimed at not allowing Iran to be supplied with uranium enrichment technology, material and services from abroad,'' he said.

He was speaking before talks later today between Russia and five other world powers on what steps to take against Iran.

Russia is part of an international team, consisting of the five veto-wielding permanent U N Security Council members and Germany, that is working to persuade Tehran to give up military nuclear plans and make its atomic programme transparent.

Backed by China, Moscow has got rid of close to half of an original European text on sanctions that was supported by the United States.

Reuters PDM DB1957

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