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Russia Rejects Iranian Criticism of Moscow as 'Emotional'

  • Peter Fedynsky

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is rejecting Iranian criticism of his country's support for new sanctions against Tehran's nuclear program.

Asked at a Moscow news conference about Mr. Ahmadinejad's criticism of Russia the previous day, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country takes those statements as emotional. Lavrov said if the translation of the criticism is correct, Mr. Ahmadinejad advises Russia to "do this and do that" regarding the Iranian nuclear program.

The foreign minister also rejected the Iranian president's suggestion Russia is on America's leash.

Lavrov says all decisions, including those related to Iran's nuclear program, are based on Russia's national interest and its responsibility as a large country that is engaged in numerous international efforts to regulate various problems, which include the Iranian program.

Speaking in Iran Wednesday, President Ahmadinejad condemned Russia's support for new international sanctions backed by the United States that would target Iranian financial institution and countries, which provide Iran with nuclear technology.

Mr. Ahmadinejad says Iran does not like to see its neighbor lend support at a sensitive time to those who have shown animosity to his country for 30 years. He says this is not acceptable to the Iranian nation and urges Russia to take corrective action.

Sergei Lavrov said Russia welcomes a recent agreement between Iran, Brazil and Turkey to send part of Tehran's enriched uranium stockpile abroad for processing. He said much of that agreement recalls the International Atomic Energy Agency's proposal to Iran last October. He notes, however, there is no guarantee Iran will comply with the latest proposal.

Lavrov says much depends on how the Iranian side will approach its responsibilities. If it strictly complies, then Russia will actively support realization of schemes proposed by Brazil and Turkey.

The United States opposes the deal because it does not completely freeze Iran's ability to enrich uranium, which could allow the country to develop a nuclear bomb.

Russian Academy of Sciences Oriental and Mid-East Studies Director Vitaliy Naumkin says Russian support for sanctions should not be seen as loss of patience with Iran.

Naumkin says Russia continues to work with Tehran, though it is a difficult partner and one that has problems with the international community. But Russia, he says, is trying to somehow serve as an intermediary between the West and Tehran.

Despite Moscow's support for sanctions, it has supplied fuel for Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr. Lavrov has said it will soon go online. And last week, the head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's upper house of Parliament, Mikhail Margelov, said the sanctions will not affect Russia's plans to sell Tehran its S-300 surface-to-air missiles.