MOSCOW (AFP) -Sanctions are not the best way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
The use of sanctions is “not the best and by no means the only way to resolve international problems,” Lavrov told journalists with reference to Iran.
While cautioning against sanctions, he urged Iran to do more to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“First of all we should be doing our utmost for the IAEA to professionally collect the maximum amount of information… to help us answer the questions we have about the past of the Iranian nuclear programme,” Lavrov said.
“Iran should do much more than it has done. Certain progress has been achieved in clarifying dark spots, but more is required of Iran,” he said Tuesday.
Lavrov’s comments followed high-level international talks on the Iranian nuclear issue in London on Monday, at which Russia was reported to be supportive of referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council.
Such a referral is seen as a step towards a possible eventual decision by the Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activity.
However Russia, a permanent Security Council member, is seen as reluctant to damage its close commercial and diplomatic relations with Tehran, symbolised by Moscow’s ongoing construction of Iran’s first nuclear power station at Bushehr.
Lavrov also said that any resumption of negotiations between Iran and the “EU-3” — Britain, France and Germany — had to be preceded with a return by Tehran to a voluntary moratorium on sensitive nuclear research.
Lavrov’s comments came as Iran vowed to put an end to tough UN inspections of its atomic programme and fully resume sensitive nuclear fuel work if its case is referred to the Security Council.
Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asgar Soltaniyeh, also told the student news agency ISNA that a decision to kick-start nuclear research work was “irreversible”.
“As I said recently, if Iran’s nuclear case leaves the framework of the IAEA for the Security Council, the government — in line with the law voted by parliament — will end voluntary cooperation,” he was quoted as saying.
He said this included an end to a voluntary suspension of certain nuclear fuel work.
While Iran has restarted uranium enrichment research — a move that prompted the latest crisis — it is for now maintaining a freeze on large-scale enrichment work.