Iran sanctions must not hit Russian business: envoy

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Russia's envoy to the European Union slammed Friday unilateral US and EU sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, warning the measures should not hit Russian business interests.

"We do not support them. We think they are totally wrong in substance and in tactics," ambassador Vladimir Chizhov told reporters in Brussels.

The United States and European Union angered Russia last week when they imposed sanctions on Iran's oil and gas sector, measures that went beyond a fourth set of UN sanctions which Moscow supported.

"The sanctions contained in (UN Security Council) Resolution 1929 are clever sanctions, the follow-on measures by the European Union are not," Chizhov said.

He charged: "If you want to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear programme ... then why the hell are you banning the supply of equipment for the oil and gas industry?"

The sanctions will "certainly hinder" diplomatic efforts to convince Iran to halt its nuclear activities because Iranian officials "will immediately sense a difference of views" among world powers, he said.

Russia is also concerned about any interference with Russian business interests in Iran, the envoy said.

"We will certainly not accept any infringement of the rights and of the activities of Russian companies on the basis of those unilateral decisions," he said.

Russian cooperation with the EU on the Iran nuclear issue could be affected by the sanctions, he said.

"As far as our cooperation with the EU, that will certainly depend on the degree to which the EU will be taking into consideration our sensitivities regarding the interests of Russian companies involved," Chizhov said.

The United States, EU and Israel fear that Iran's nuclear activities are aimed at building an atomic bomb, but Tehran insists it is merely a civilian energy programme.

© 2010 AFP

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