Russia, U.S. agree on sanctions against Iran, N.Korea - Obama

Russia, U.S. agree on sanctions against Iran, N.Korea - Obama

Russia and the United States agreed that sanctions against Iran and North Korea should be boosted, President Barack Obama said Thursday at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev after top-level talks, RIA Novosti reported.

Western powers suspect Iran of attempting to build nuclear weapons and the UN Security Council approved on June 9 the fourth round of economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, including tougher financial controls and an expanded arms embargo. Tehran maintains that its nuclear program is aimed at generating peaceful civilian energy.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he regrets the UN Security Council's decision to impose a new round of sanctions against Iran and called the move "counterproductive." He said Iran will make no concessions to any country.

Following the imposition of the new sanctions, the Iranian parliament passed a bill directing the government to scale down its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced Wednesday his country had produced 17 kilograms of 20%-enriched uranium and could produce as much as it needed. He said Tehran was not going to turn its entire uranium stockpile into 20%-enriched fuel but that it reserved "the right to enrich fuel to any level needed."

The six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program stalled last April after Pyongyang pulled out of negotiations in protest to the United Nations' condemnation of its missile tests.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula increased when the 1,200-ton South Korean warship Cheonan sunk near the disputed Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea on March 26, causing the loss of 46 lives. South Korea says it has proof that North Korea fired a torpedo at the vessel from a submarine, although Pyongyang denies the attack.

While the United States and South Korea continue to insist on imposing fresh sanctions on the North, veto-wielding China has made it clear that it is against the sanctions.

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