'Moscow not ready yet for sanctions on Iran'

Russian diplomat tells Foreign Ministry officials sanctions might be in order, but only at a later stage.

Putin ahmadinejad 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Putin ahmadinejad 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Russia is not opposed to sanctions against Iran to halt its nuclear weapons march, but does not think the time has yet come to impose them, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak told Foreign Ministry officials on Sunday. Kislyak, who is the point man inside the Russian Foreign Ministry on the Iranian nuclear issue, met in Jerusalem Sunday with Foreign Minister Director-General Aharon Abramovitch and discussed everything from sanctions against Iran to reports that Russia was on the verge of sending uranium to fuel Iran's first atomic power station at Bushehr. Russia has delayed sending the uranium to Bushehr for months, but is reportedly on the verge of making the shipment in the near future. Kislyak's visit was part of a biannual discussion top Israeli and Russian officials have been holding on the Iranian nuclear issue for the last three years. One Israeli official said that Israel gained a better understanding of the Russian position on the Iranian issue, and was "somewhat encouraged" by the discussions. He would not, however, elaborate. Meanwhile, visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner - who has taken a very strong stand against the Iranian military nuclear program - said that France was willing to accept Iran's right to civilian nuclear power, and was even willing to help them attain that capability. But, he said during a Jerusalem press conference with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, "we are not ready to accept an atomic bomb, a military power. I've been very clear on that." At the same time, Kouchner dismissed reports that France was not ruling out military action against Iran, saying that Paris was committed to continued dialogue with the Iranians. Nevertheless, he said France was against nuclear proliferation in the region, "and proliferation starts with one bomb in Iran." Livni, meanwhile, said that last week's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency reaffirmed "that Iran is in violation of the resolution of the Security Council and is promoting its nuclear program, and this is something that the international community needs to address." She called on the immediate imposition of more sanctions both by the UN Security Council as well as by other individual states and the private sector. The Iranian issue was also central to Kouchner's talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday morning, with Olmert saying that time for dealing with the issue was "running out," and that according to Israeli estimates, if everything worked in Iran's favor, it was likely that by the end of 2009 Iran would have all the components necessary to assemble a nuclear bomb.