Russia Warns US against Sanctions

A05292044.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Moscow accused Washington on Friday of breaking international law and undermining cooperation on Iran’s nuclear program after it imposed sanctions on Russian companies.

The US State Department alleged on an official website that it had imposed sanctions on firms in China and Russia for alleged sales of sensitive technology that could help Iran, North Korea and Syria develop nuclear or missile systems.

“These new sanctions were introduced without any international legal foundation whatsoever,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We will take this into account in our affairs, in our relations with the United States,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

He also said the US move would undermine Russian cooperation over Iran’s nuclear program, which Washington only claims is aimed at making a nuclear bomb and has no corroborative evidence to substantiate its allegations.

“If it seemed to someone in Washington that in this way the USA can make Russia more compliant in accepting American ways of resolving the Iranian nuclear problem, then they are mistaken,” Lavrov said.

Tehran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only. Russia has given limited backing to UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, and says there is no evidence Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

A document published on the US Federal Register (page 63226) said the sanctions would be effective from Oct 23.

It was first reported by Russian news agencies. A US State Department spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Under the sanctions, which usually last two years, no US government agency may enter into any agreement with the organizations named.

Sanctions were imposed on 13 organizations, including China Xinshidai Company, China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Corporation, Huazhong CNC as well as Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport and the Venezuelan Military Industries Company.

The United States imposed sanctions in 2006 on Rosoboronexport, now a unit of Russian industrial group Russian Technologies, provoking sharp criticism from Moscow.

Russian Technologies is headed by Sergei Chemezov, a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Russian Technologies also has stakes in AvtoVAZ, Russia’s top carmaker, and VSMPO-Avisma, the world’s largest titanium producer.

A spokesman for Rosoboronexport said on Russian television the State Department’s measures were “a case of unscrupulous competition,” by the United States and that the firm worked in line with all international agreements on arms control.

Political observers believe that the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran mainly over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicts a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

The UN nuclear watchdog has so far carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.

Also in his latest report to the 35-nation Board of Governors, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed “the non-diversion” of nuclear material in Iran and added that the agency had found no “components of a nuclear weapon” or “related nuclear physics studies” in the country.

The IAEA report confirmed that Iran has managed to enrich uranium-235 to a level ‘less than 5 percent.’ Such a rate is consistent with the construction of a nuclear power plant. Nuclear arms production, meanwhile, requires an enrichment level of above 90 percent.

The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog continues snap inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and has reported that all “declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports, stressing that Tehran’s case should be normalized and returned to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the Islamic Republic’s increased cooperation with the agency.

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