Sanctions against Iran avoidable: Clinton
Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has described sanctions against Iran as not inevitable and urged Iran to work with the international community, Xinhua reported.
Clinton was answering questions on international action over Iran's controversial uranium enrichment program at a press conference here on Tuesday.
The RIA Novosti news agency quoted her as saying: "We are not at that point (when sanctions are inevitable); it is not the conclusion to which we have already come."
She also reiterated the United States preferred that Iran work with the international community, represented through the format of "five plus one" (the five permanent United Nations Security Council members of the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany).
Iran had every right to pursue a peaceful nuclear energy program, but it had no right to have nuclear weapons, said Clinton, adding that Russia agreed with the United States on that, according to the Interfax news agency.
Iran held talks with envoys from the "five plus one" group in Geneva on Oct. 1. During the talks, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili promised that Tehran would soon open its newly disclosed uranium enrichment facility near Qom to UN inspectors.
Western powers suspect Iran of attempting to build nuclear weapons, but Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed at generating nuclear energy for civilian purposes.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the press conference that Russia and the United States "coincided" their views on the Iranian nuclear issue.
"We are not asking for anything from each other in the Iran issue because it would be ridiculous to ask for anything in an issue on which our positions coincide," said Lavrov.
In principle, Russia is "very reserved on sanctions, as they rarely produce results," said Lavrov.
Moscow has been calling for a diplomatic approach over further sanctions concerning Iran's nuclear program.
However, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said during his trip to the United States in late September that "sanctions are not the best way to deal successfully with Iran, but if we run out of all other options, we could launch sanctions based on international law."
Prior to the meeting between Clinton and Lavrov, some media reports cited a senior U.S. State Department official under condition of anonymity as saying that the United States demanded Russian support for pressure on Iran should talks in the format of "five plus one" end in vain.
"The secretary (Clinton) will want to speak to Foreign Minister Lavrov and President Medvedev about what specific forms of pressure Russia would be prepared to join us and our other allies in if Iran fails to live up to its obligations," said the official.
Clinton also said at the press conference that Washington had no intention to either soften or harden sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and she appreciated Russia's cooperation on the DPRK nuclear issue.
The U.S. secretary of state, who is on a two-day visit to Russia, is scheduled to meet the Russian president later on Tuesday.