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Russian UN Envoy: Moscow Could Back New Sanctions Against Iran

Russia's envoy to the United Nations says Moscow could support new international sanctions against Iran if Tehran does not stop its uranium enrichment activities within days.

Vitaly Churkin said Wednesday that as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Russia will fulfill its responsibility to support a proposed U.N. resolution on Iran.

Churkin told journalists on a videoconference from New York that the sanctions should not hurt Iran's economy. He said they should specifically target organizations involved in the nuclear industry.

Russia has close ties with Iran and has been reluctant to back tougher sanctions against the country.

The U.N. Security Council is considering the proposed new sanctions this week.

Iran says its nuclear activities are peaceful, but the United States is concerned Tehran is pursing a nuclear weapons program.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the Iranian nuclear issue with her Chinese counterpart in Beijing Tuesday. Washington has been a leading advocate of stronger sanctions.

But Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said his country favors intensifying diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.