Russia Questions US Sanctions Against Iran

Posted June 24th, 2011 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Moscow on Friday said that sanctions imposed by the United States on Tehran could affect Russian companies doing work in Iran and demanded the U.S. revise the policy.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that Washington's decision raised “serious questions” and could put Russian firms at risk.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions against Iran's national airline and a major Iranian port company, prohibiting U.S. companies from doing business with them.

The Obama administration said Iran Air, the Tidewater Middle East Company and three other firms were targeted because of illegal shipping activity and weapons movements.

But the Russian Foreign Ministry said the sanctions raised suspicions that Washington's decisions were based on something other than just enforcing the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

It said the unilateral use of U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals and companies was unacceptable and that the policy needed to be reviewed.

The United States and its allies, as well as the United Nations, have already hit Iran with several rounds of sanctions for pursuing nuclear weapons technology and over human rights violations.

Earlier this week, the U.S., Britain and France called for the release of a report submitted to the U.N. Security Council that says Tehran has been violating a U.N. arms embargo, mostly by shipping weapons to Syria.

Veto-wielding council members Russia and China, however, gave no indication they would allow the document to be published.

Meanwhile, in Tehran, Iran's president said his government is not interested in building a nuclear bomb, but will not be stopped by the West if it desires to create one.

State television quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Thursday as saying his government would tell the world if it was working on a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments are the latest in a long series of denials from Tehran about its nuclear aims. Iran says its nuclear projects are for peaceful purposes.

Western nations believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons capability under the cover of a civilian energy program. Tehran denies the allegations.