Russia, China Resist New Iran Sanctions

( Newsvinew ) Russia and China refuse to discuss possible new sanctions against Iran until the U.N. nuclear agency reports on Tehran's disclosure of its past suspicious nuclear work at the end of the year, France's foreign minister said Thursday.

Bernard Kouchner said France, the United States and Britain are trying to persuade the Russians and Chinese not to wait to consider a new U.N. Security Council resolution that would toughen sanctions on Iran for defying council demands to suspend uranium enrichment.

But he said he did not think the council would be able to take up a new sanctions resolution until after December, when the International Atomic Energy Agency's report is due.

"I think that it would be very difficult to convince the Russians and the Chinese before," Kouchner told reporters at a breakfast meeting. "We'll do our best to convince them, but honestly, the position was difficult to tackle."

Earlier in the day, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov , told Russian news agencies that new sanctions would undermine the IAEA's work.

"The U.N. Security Council measures on Iran should be balanced and respond to the steps taken by Tehran itself that obliged to answer all questions," Lavrov was quoted as saying by ITAR- Tass and RIA- Novosti .

Lavrov and other diplomats said he and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice exchanged sharp words over new sanctions Wednesday at a German-hosted luncheon of foreign ministers from the Group of 8 industrialized nations.

Rice and her aides have moved to capitalize on international frustration with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for declaring Tuesday that Tehran would defy any council move for more sanctions, but Lavrov said he was adamant for letting the IAEA deal with Iran.

He said the United States wants to ignore the IAEA but "we want to rely on IAEA expertise."

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and Iranian officials agreed in July that Tehran would answer questions from agency experts by December on more than two decades of nuclear activity - most of it secret until revealed more than four years ago.

IAEA technical officials returned to Tehran this week to start probing outstanding questions, some with possible weapons applications.

Two rounds of council sanctions have failed to persuade Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. Tehran insists the program is aimed at producing energy for civilian use but the U.S., its European allies and many others fear the program's real aim is to produce nuclear weapons.

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