Russia warns against more Iran sanctions

MOSCOW - Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday warned the West against imposing economic sanctions against Iran, saying they would "stifle" the Iranian economy and hurt the population.

Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that the sanctions on oil exports considered by the European Union could stymie efforts to solve the Iranian nuclear standoff through talks.

"It has nothing to do with a desire to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation," he said at a news conference. "It's aimed at stifling the Iranian economy and the population in an apparent hope to provoke discontent."

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The EU is weighing whether to impose sanctions on buying Iranian oil, which is the source of more than 80 percent of Tehran's foreign revenue.

The U.S. has already imposed new sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and, by extension, refiners' ability to buy and pay for crude.

The sanctions are linked to Iran's disputed uranium enrichment program, which the U.S. and its Western allies suspect is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charges, saying its program is aimed at civilian power generation and research.

Moscow, which built Iran's first nuclear power plant, backed some of the previous U.N. sanctions against Iran, but in recent months has firmly rejected imposing any new sanctions and called for dialogue.

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