Russia Urges Iran to Meet UN Nuclear Deadline

By Sergei Blagov | July 7, 2008 | 8:17 PM EDT

Moscow ( - Following unsuccessful efforts to convince Iran to accept Russia's earlier compromise nuclear proposals, the Kremlin is calling on Tehran to respect the demands of the international community.

The foreign ministry on Thursday said Russia has urged Iran to meet a deadline to suspend its uranium enrichment program by August 31, contained in a U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Monday.

"We expect that the Iranian side will respond properly and no extra measures by the UN Security Council will be required," it said. Russia, along with China, opposes any plan to impose sanctions on the oil-rich Islamic republic.

The ministry noted that Iran, as a U.N. member state, was obliged to abide by and implement Security Council resolutions.

Resolution 1696 says that if Iran does not meet the month-end deadline, the council will consider sanctions. Iran dismissed the legally-binding resolution as irrelevant.

Despite repeated Russian efforts, Iran rejected a proposal by Moscow that would have enabled it to enrich uranium at a facility on Russian soil. The aim was to provide Iran with the nuclear fuel it said it needed for its civilian nuclear program without risking that it was using the program as a cover to develop the capability to manufacture atomic bombs.

After several rounds of talks, Iran's foreign ministry said last May Tehran was no longer considering the Russian proposal. It wanted to carry out large-scale uranium enrichment at home.

The Russian offer was seen as an attempt by resolve the standoff before it reached a stage where sanctions were being threatened. Russia and China both have significant commercial interests in Iran and oppose sanctions.

In the event, Iran's refusal to back down called into question the extent to which Moscow could influence the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Meanwhile, Russia Thursday also called on Iran to play a positive role in resolving the conflict in the Middle East, where Israel is fighting Hizballah, the Lebanese terrorist group sponsored by Iran and Syria.

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov said at a meeting with Iran's ambassador to Moscow, Gholamreza Ansari, that "Iran can contribute to efforts" to end the violence and restore peace and stability in the region.

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