Russia said Wednesday that fresh sanctions on Iran over its nuclear work were not the solution, although new punitive measures seemed more 'realistic' at the moment.
“In this new situation, of course, the question of sanctions, of drafting a resolution for new sanctions has become more realistic,” Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax news agency.
He, however, said that in Russia's view "sanctions were not a solution to the problem,” adding that Western powers were trying to press Russia, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto power, into consenting to more sanctions against Iran.
The US has been pushing Iran to accept a deal that demands Tehran to send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further processing for Tehran's research reactor, which runs on 20 percent-enriched uranium and produces medical isotopes.
Iran has called for the swap deal to take place on its own soil, arguing that if it ships out the bulk of its enriched uranium there will be no guarantees that the fuel would eventually be delivered to the country, based on the past contractual violations by Western nuclear powers in their dealings with the Islamic Republic.
The Tehran research reactor is running out of fuel and since the country could no longer rely on the IAEA or the nuclear powers for the delivery of the required fuel, Iran took measures to enrich uranium to 20 percent on its own soil.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Tuesday that Iran could not wait for Western countries to further "waste time" while some 850,000 cancer patients were in dire need of medicine.
Upon the order of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran announced on Tuesday that it began enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent at its Natanz enrichment facility to meet domestic demand.
Shortly after Iran's announcement, US President Barack Obama threatened Iran with “significant regime of sanctions.”
Iran says, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, it reserves the right to enrich uranium up to 20 percent, arguing that a fuel swap with Western countries does not require the country to relinquish other ways of supplying the fuel.
Officials in Tehran have, however, asserted that they are still open to talks over the swap, reiterating that their “concerns” have to be addressed.