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US, Russia: No New Sanctions on Iran Yet

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart held talks in Moscow Tuesday, but the two sides played down any potential disagreements over how to respond to Iran's nuclear program.

Clinton met early Tuesday with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who said that under the current circumstances even the threat of sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program would be counterproductive.

Secretary of State Clinton said the United States agreed with Russia it was important to pursue diplomacy toward Iran. She said it was not yet time for additional sanctions but the United States continued to believe such a step might be needed if diplomacy fails.

"We believe that Iran is entitled to peaceful nuclear energy but that it is not entitled to nuclear weapons. Russia agrees with us on that," she said. "At the same time that we are very vigorously pursuing this [sanctions] track, we are aware that we might not be as successful as we need to be so we have always looked at the potential of sanctions in the event that we are not successful, that we cannot assure ourselves and others that Iran has decided not to pursue nuclear weapons," she continued.

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Iran, which recently agreed to let nuclear inspectors into a newly revealed facility, has insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The United States, which wants assurances that Iran is not secretly trying to build a nuclear weapon, has been trying to line up support for potential new sanctions.

Foreign Minister Lavrov says Secretary Clinton did not try to win agreement on any new sanctions on Iran during Tuesday's talks. He said the two countries want to resolve all issues connected with Iran's nuclear program. And he said Iran should be able to take advantage of all the opportunities in peaceful nuclear power engineering as long as the principal of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is adhered to.

Secretary Clinton, who is due to leave Russia on Thursday, praised the cooperation between the two countries on other issues, including the renegotiation of the current Strategic Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty which expires in December. Both sides said considerable progress had been achieved on the issue.