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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Putin says too early to consider sanctions against Iran

RIA Novosti

21:09 14/10/2009 BEIJING, October 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that international threats of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program are premature, and that such measures must only be considered if negotiations fail.

"On the whole, I believe that we need to talk and to seek compromises. If they are not found, we will see what to do next," Putin told Russian journalists in Beijing.

Prime ministers from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had gathered in the Chinese capital to discuss efforts to enhance cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and formulate joint responses to challenges, including the ongoing global economic crisis.

A representative of Iran, an observer country in the SCO, attended the meeting.

Western powers suspect Iran of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program, but the Islamic Republic says it needs nuclear power for solely civilian purposes.

Responding to a journalist's question on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's refusal to rule out sanctions against Iran, Putin said Medvedev defines foreign policy in Russia, but added that Medvedev's words were cautious and did not mean Russia is set on sanctions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed at talks in Moscow on Tuesday that sanctions against Iran would be premature in the current circumstances, and that negotiations must continue.

Tehran is under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Iran and six world powers involved in negotiations on its nuclear program met in Switzerland at the start of October, soon after news of Iran's second uranium enrichment facility led to international calls for tougher sanctions.

During the talks outside Geneva, the two sides agreed on an inspection by the UN nuclear watchdog of Iran's new uranium enrichment facility, and pledged to intensify the negotiation process.

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