Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Questions More Iran Sanctions

APRice talking to Lavrov during a news conference in Berlin on Thursday. She pressed him over sanctions for Iran.
UNITED NATIONS -- In contrast to the United States, Russia is questioning the usefulness of additional UN sanctions against Iran, stressing that the goal was to reach a political solution to Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Moscow's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, raised questions Thursday in reaction to a new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, that said Iran failed to meet a Feb. 21 deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, which the West fears can be used to make an atomic bomb.

Stressing the need for a diplomatic solution, Churkin told reporters: "We should not lose sight of the goal and the goal is not to have a resolution or to impose sanctions. The goal is to accomplish a political outcome of this problem."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, pressed Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over the additional sanctions during a meeting Thursday in Berlin of the the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers.

Talking to reporters Friday, Rice downplayed the likelihood of U.S. military action against Iran. "I don't want to speak for my Russian colleague but ... we would expect to continue to pursue our Security Council track as well as to pursue a track that would hopefully lead to negotiations," Rice said during a visit to Ottawa. "I expect on that, we're all on the same page."

The United States and several European nations, such as council members Britain and France, are pushing for additional UN sanctions after Iran defied a Dec. 23 council resolution.

That measure imposed bans on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials in an effort to stop enrichment work.

Among the new measures under review are a mandatory travel ban on Iranian officials involved in the nuclear program, an end to government-backed loans and credits, an enlargement of the list of items Tehran cannot buy and sell and restrictions on visas to students studying nuclear-related subjects abroad.

But much depends on how far the Russians are willing to go in imposing further penalties.

On Monday, Germany and the officials from the five permanent Security Council members with veto rights -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- meet in London to begin drafting a resolution, said Nicholas Burns, U.S. undersecretary of state.

In sharp contrast with Churkin, Burns as well as Jackie Sanders, a U.S. deputy ambassador at the United Nations, said the time had come "to ratchet up the pressure on Iran."

"Stay tuned," Sanders said. And in Washington, Burns said, he expected to "see Iran repudiated again by the Security Council."

Slovakia's UN Ambassador Peter Burian, this month's Security Council president, said, "We'll be checking the mood and the interest of the members to convene consultations within our presidency," he said.