Russia is ready to discuss the issue of possible new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, but still believes that diplomacy is the way forward, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday.
"Our Western partners are raising the issue of the working out of a new resolution," he said. "We are not walking away from this conversation, we are discussing the issue of whether or not sanctions are needed. And if they are needed, then which ones?"
The deputy minister emphasized that any new sanctions should be "focused and precise" and should not impose a collective punishment on the Iranian people.
"The point of the sanctions has always been and must always remain the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime," he stressed.
He also said that it was inadmissable to abandon "the search for a diplomatic solution" to the crisis.
Iran's recent move to begin enriching uranium to 20% sparked a new wave of international criticism, with the U.S. leading calls for new harsher sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Western powers suspect that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at making weapons, while Tehran claims it is pursuing nuclear technology for its civilian energy needs.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev indicated to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during talks in Moscow last week that Russia was moving closer to agreeing to new sanctions against Iran.
"Sanctions seldom work, but sometimes they are inevitable," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov quoted Medvedev as saying.
"We are convinced and President Medvedev has also mentioned today that sanctions must be intelligent, unaggressive and not paralyzing and should have no negative impact on the Iranian people but should be imposed on those who make decisions on cooperating with the international community," Lavrov said.
MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti)