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Russia Criticizes Western UN Draft on Iran

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticized Western powers for trying to punish Iran in a U.N. Security Council draft resolution on Iran's nuclear program.

Speaking in Moscow Wednesday, Lavrov singled out a proposal calling for travel restrictions on Iranian officials linked to the country's nuclear and missile programs.

He said Russia views such a measure as an attempt to "bring an element of punishment that, at the beginning, we agreed not to do."

Without naming any country, Lavrov said some nations are trying to introduce statements in the draft resolution that will effectively cut trade and economic ties with Iran in, what he called, completely legitimate areas.

A European draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran was circulated Tuesday among the U.N. Security Council's 15 members.

The United States says it wants a vote on the resolution by this Friday.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says every day Iran chips away at (gradually removes) some of the obstacles to developing a nuclear weapon.

Britain, France and Germany drafted the resolution that the Security Council has been discussing.

Besides Russia, China also has been reluctant to sanction Iran. Both are veto-wielding members of the Council.

Iran ignored an August 31 U.N. deadline to stop its uranium enrichment activities or face sanctions.

The U.S. and its western allies believe Iran's enrichment activities are part of a program to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes

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