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Russia Opposes 'Paralyzing' Sanctions Against Iran

A Russian foreign ministry official says Moscow will not support new sanctions against Iran that would paralyze the country because of its nuclear activities.

Oleg Rozhkov said Wednesday Russia will not work with other major powers on drafting sanctions that would isolate Iran politically, economically or financially.

The Reuters news agency quotes Rozhkov as saying Russia especially is opposed to sanctions on Iran's banking and energy sectors.

Russian officials say the goal of any new sanctions on Iran should be to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons rather than punish the country as a whole.

Western powers suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program -- a charge Iran denies.

Russia also said Wednesday it is delaying the sale of an air defense system to Iran because of concerns about regional tensions.

Russia signed a contract in 2007 to sell Iran S-300 missiles that would significantly boost its defense capabilities, but none of the missiles have been delivered.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained the delay by saying Moscow would never take any action that would lead to the destabilization of any particular region.

Russian officials previously attributed the delay to technical issues.

Iranian officials have suggested the delay is due to pressure from the United States and Israel.

The two countries have strongly objected to the missiles, which could potentially be used to thwart air attacks against Iranian nuclear sites.

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