Russia will adhere 'strictly' to sanctions on Iran: official

11th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia will comply strictly with UN sanctions on Iran, a senior official said Friday, failing to make clear however whether a controversial planned missile sale to the Islamic republic would go ahead.

"We will strictly and unswervingly follow the criteria and requirements in the resolution" Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement posted on the foreign ministry website.

The official was responding to a question on whether an agreement by Russia to supply Iran with S-300 air defence missiles would be affected by Wednesday's UN sanctions resolution against Iran. He did not however not elaborate.

Russia agreed to sell Iran the missiles several years ago but never delivered the weapons amid pressure from the United States and Israel, which fear they would dramatically improve Iran's air defence capabilities.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that the contract to deliver the air defense missiles to Iran did not fall under the sanctions because the missiles were "defensive."

"The resolution introduces limits to cooperation with Iran on offensive weapons and defensive weapons do not fall under these limits," Lavrov told reporters.

The United States concurred with the Russian understanding of the resolution, but nonetheless praised Moscow for its "restraint" in not delivering the missiles to Tehran.

"Russia has exercised responsibility, restraint and has not delivered those missiles to Iran," said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters in Washington on Thursday.

Crowley noted that the missiles are not included in Wednesday's UN sanctions resolution against Iran passed by the Security Council, but said "we have recognized and appreciated the restraint that Russia showed up to this point."

The UN Security Council's fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear drive imposed broader military and financial restrictions on the Islamic republic.

The resolution bans the sale to Iran of eight new types of heavy weapons and applies new restrictions on Iranian investments abroad.

© 2010 AFP

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