Rice battles to convince Russians on need for new Iran sanctions

Armed with the full support of NATO allies, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will try on Friday to convince a skeptical Russia that it should back US plans to step up pressure on Iran to suspend its nuclear activities. Having won NATO endorsement to stay the course despite a new US intelligence assessment that concludes Iran stopped its atomic weapons development program in 2003, Rice will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who has become the public face of opposition to new UN sanctions. On the sidelines of a NATO meeting already beset by alliance differences with Russia over US plans for European missile defense and troop deployments in Europe, Rice and Lavrov will discuss Washington's surprising revision of its view of Iran's nuclear work. The National Intelligence Estimate, released Monday, credited intense diplomatic activity for Iran's decision on weapons.