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. Russia backs ban on enrichment-related exports to Iran
MOSCOW, Dec 5 (AFP) Dec 05, 2006
Russia will support a ban on shipments to Iran of technology and material linked to uranium enrichment but remains opposed to wider-ranging sanctions backed by other Western countries, its foreign minister said Tuesday.

"We believe it is necessary to approve the proposal on forbidding deliveries of technology, material and services in the field of uranium enrichment, chemical processing of radioactive fuel, and heavy-water technology to Iran from abroad," RIA Novosti agency quoted Sergei Lavrov as saying in Brussels.

However the minister criticised a push by other Western countries for broader sanctions, saying they would "only exacerbate the situation."

"Our Western partners have supported the adoption of wide-reaching sanctions that are not proportionate to the means of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that will harm the situation," Lavrov said.

A six-country negotiating group -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- has been struggling for weeks to come to a consensus on sanctions, with Russia and China balking at a draft UN Security Council resolution drawn up by the other four members.

At issue is how broad trade restrictions against Iran should be in order to punish the country for its refusal to comply with an earlier UN resolution requiring a freeze on uranium enrichment.

"Such a wholesale approach to banning cooperation with Iran in various spheres will only exacerbate the situation. It will have the reverse effect" from what Western countries intend, Lavrov said.

His comments came as senior foreign ministry officials of the six countries in the negotiating group were set to meet in Paris to attempt to reach consensus on the issue.

Western countries suspect Iran is using its uranium enrichment program to try to build nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists that its only goal is to produce electricity.

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