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Iran's Allies China, Russia Part on Sanctions Talk

Iran's key allies, China and Russia, are sending divergent messages on whether to pursue further sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi warned Thursday that talk of additional sanctions is complicating the situation and hindering efforts to find a diplomatic solution.

Meantime, a leading Russian lawmaker, Konstantin Kosachyov, suggested Russia is more in agreement with Western nations calling for additional sanctions.

He told Russian state news that Iran's recent launch of a satellite has raised concerns that the Islamic Republic could eventually fire a long-range nuclear weapon.

China and Russia, both permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, traditionally have opposed past efforts to punish Iran for its nuclear activity.

Western countries are pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran to try to force the country to enter into negotiations.

In another development, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said his country blocked at least three shipments of cargo to Iran after invoking an Australian law aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Rudd did not reveal the contents of the blocked cargo, but the Australian newspaper reports one shipment included pumps that could be used to cool nuclear power plants.

The Australian says Australia's defense minister, John Faulkner, issued the order late last year.

Western nations fear Iran is working to produce atomic weapons, but Iran says its nuclear program is meant only for peaceful purposes.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.