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Moscow hopes for diplomatic solution
Russian deputy FM says Iran nuke standoff hasn't crossed "critical threshold."
Russia still hopes a diplomatic resolution can be found to the crisis that has developed between Iran and the West over the former’s nuclear program, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the interfax news agency on Monday.

In comments communicated by AFP, Ryabkov said Moscow had “not lost hope for a solution to the Iranian nuclear problem through dialogue,” adding that the standoff with Teheran had not yet reached the “critical threshold.”

Apparently, Iran will only pass that critical threshold if fears that it is trying to produce a nuclear bomb are heightened. In such a case, Ryabkov said, Russia would support new sanctions and call for change in Teheran.

"Nothing is happening today which would give grounds to talk of a 'new page' or a 'new chapter'. Normal discussions are going on, as they have always been and will be," AFP quoted Ryabkov as saying.

Two weeks ago, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Russia may accede to a sanctions resolution on Iran. However, Putin went on to caution Clinton that sanctions "do not always help to resolve such an issue … sometimes they can have a counterproductive impact."

A month previously, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he was "very alarmed" over Iran's failure to prove its nuclear program is peaceful.

The last sanctions resolution adopted in March 2008 authorized inspection of cargo shipments by two Iranian companies that are suspected of containing banned items. It also introduced financial monitoring of two banks with suspected links to proliferation activities and called on all countries "to exercise vigilance" in entering into new trade commitments with Iran, including granting export credits, guarantees or insurance.

Israel Radio reported earlier this month that Western countries, under pressure by Russia and China, drafted a blueprint for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran which would not tighten the ban on trade between Western banks and the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

AP contributed to this report
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