AFP: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov admitted on Thursday that Iran was a "difficult partner" and warned targeted sanctions over its contested nuclear programme may become "unavoidable". STRASBOURG (AFP) — Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov admitted on Thursday that Iran was a "difficult partner" and warned targeted sanctions over its contested nuclear programme may become "unavoidable".
"Iran is a difficult partner and we are disappointed (it) has not responded constructively to the proposals reiterated" by world powers over its nuclear ambitions, Lavrov told the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly.
"There are few examples where sanctions have produced truly positive results," said the Russian minister, whose country is considering whether to back further United Nations sanctions against Iran.
In Iran's case, however, "they may be unavoidable, and that will be up to the Security Council to decide," Lavrov said.
"In that case, the only goal must be to incite Tehran to solve all the problems surrounding its programme… and not to use sanctions to suffocate Iran, which would create a humanitarian crisis," he said.
The Russian diplomat firmly ruled out using force against Tehran, after a Swedish lawmaker at the Council raised the possibility of armed intervention.
"To say that now we have to resort to force against Iran, that to me seems absolutely unacceptable," Lavrov said.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev this week launched one of his strongest attacks on Iran's conduct in the nuclear crisis, accusing it of behaving irresponsibly.
Medvedev has repeatedly said Russia, a veto-wielding UN Security Council permanent member, does not rule out further sanctions against Tehran but they should not hurt the wider population.
Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr and has long held relatively robust relations with the Islamic Republic.
But Moscow has turned impatient since Tehran failed to accept a UN-brokered nuclear fuel swap deal involving Russia aimed at defusing the standoff.
The United States and other Western countries accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon. Russia has never backed this claim but said Iran needs to build trust with the international community.