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. Russia warns against Iraq-style 'proof' in Iran nuclear standoff
ATHENS, Sept 24 (AFP) Sep 24, 2006
The United Nations must not rely on the kind of evidence used to justify slapping sanctions on Iraq ahead of the 2003 US-led invasion when considering Iran's nuclear programme, Russia said Saturday.

In an interview published in Saturday's edition of Greek newspaper Kathimerini, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said the UN should only consider sanctions if presented with "concrete and incontrovertible evidence that Iran is attempting to build nuclear weapons and clear evidence that it is supporting international terrorism."

Ivanov added that it would be "unacceptable to repeat the scenario of Iraq which had sanctions applied against it without complete evidence," he said.

One of the reasons the United States and Britain gave for supporting sanctions against Iraq and invading was that Baghdad under former dictator Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Over three years after the invasion no serious evidence of WMDs has been found in the country.

Ivanov insisted that the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme "could only be solved by taking the diplomatic and political route" with "closer co-operation between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."

Moscow is opposed to the idea of imposing sanctions on Iran, despite the fact that Tehran ignored a August 31 UN Security Council deadline to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

Referring to the US take on the current crisis, Lavrov on Thursday criticised what he called "the obsession with sanctions."

Asked separately about US sanctions slapped on two Russian arms companies that have contracts with Iran, Ivanov said the measures "would not lead to a revision" of his country's technical and military agreements with Tehran.

Lavrov meanwhile on Sunday called for the sanctions against the two firms -- Sukhoi and Rosoboronexport -- to be lifted.

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