Russia says U.S. sanctions will hit ties

Russia accused Washington on Friday of breaking international law and weakening cooperation on Iran's nuclear program after it imposed sanctions on companies accused of passing sensitive technology to Tehran, Reuters reported.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said the United States had imposed sanctions on firms in China, Russia, Sudan, Venezuela, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates for alleged sales of sensitive technology that could help Iran, North Korea and Syria develop weapons of mass destruction or missile systems.

Spokesman Gordon Duguid said he could not give specific details of the companies' activities because of "intelligence sensitivities."

One of the firms on the list was Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

"These new sanctions were introduced without any international legal foundation whatsoever," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"Russia will of course take this into account in practical affairs and relations with the United States such as in trade and economic and other spheres."

Lavrov, speaking at a news briefing after talks with Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, said the U.S. measures would not make Russia change its policies on Iran.

"All our trade and all of our military-technical cooperation with Iran is carried out in strict accordance with current international legal norms," Lavrov said.

"There can be no other explanation here than the rather arrogant extra-territorial implementation of American laws."

Western states suspect Iran of trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Tehran denies this, saying its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

Russia has given limited backing to U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, but says there is no evidence Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

A Russian foreign ministry statement later said the sanctions had damaged the United States' position in the group of six countries -- Russia, Britain, the United States, China, France and Germany -- involved in talks with Iran over its nuclear program.

"It is clear that such actions undermine cooperation within the framework of the 'Six'," the statement said.

"It's time for the United States to decide if it is ready to continue cooperation within the 'Six' on the basis of the agreed approaches."

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