Russia not to stand aloof on Iran sanctions: source

Tue Dec 1, 2009 11:45am EST
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By Oleg Shchedrov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia signaled impatience with Iran and growing acceptance of the West's threat of sanctions on Tuesday, pointing to Tehran's plans for new nuclear enrichment projects as a reason for pessimism about a diplomatic solution.

Russia would not be isolated if other powers reached a consensus on Iran sanctions, said a senior Russian diplomatic source, in Moscow's most critical comments yet in the ongoing dispute over Tehran's nuclear programme.

"If there is a consensus on Iran sanctions, we will not stand aside," said the diplomatic source who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

"We will be thinking about sanctions but this is not an issue of the next few hours or weeks," the source said, adding that Moscow did not want to complicate the situation with threats against Tehran.

Tehran caused an international outcry on Sunday when it announced plans to build 10 more uranium enrichment sites in retaliation for a rebuke by the U.N. nuclear agency for covering up an enrichment project for at least two years.

Western powers, Russia and China backed a U.N.-drafted nuclear fuel deal in October that was designed to allay international concern about Iran's atomic activities, but Tehran declined it.

"We will not contribute to the complicated situation with threats of sanctions but we will have in view such prospects ... we are not going to remain isolated," the source said.

Iran's announcement that it planned to build new enrichment centers did "not add optimism to talks with Iran," the source said, adding that Russia wanted Iran to cooperate openly and consistently with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).   Continued...