Middle East

Russia rules out new Iran sanctions over nuclear report

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Natanz uranium enrichment facility in 2008
Image caption Iran insists its nuclear sites are engaged in non-military projects

Russia has ruled out supporting fresh sanctions against Iran, despite a UN report that says Tehran may be trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Britain, France and the US all said they would pursue new sanctions against Iran in the wake of the IAEA report.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said the report showed the need for the world to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons.

The US and its allies suspect Iran of trying to develop a nuclear bomb, which Tehran denies.

The Iranian government insists that its nuclear programme is for peaceful means.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Interfax news agency that extra sanctions "will be seen in the international community as an instrument for regime change in Iran".

"That approach is unacceptable to us, and the Russian side does not intend to consider such proposals."

The Russian foreign ministry later issued another statement saying that the report "does not contain fundamentally new information".

However, Mr Netanyahu accused Iran of endangering world peace.

"The significance of the report is that the international community must bring about the cessation of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons which endanger the peace of the world and of the Middle East," he said in a statement.

"The IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] report corroborates the position of the international community, and of Israel that Iran is developing nuclear weapons," Mr Netanyahu added.

The IAEA said it had information indicating Iran had carried out tests "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device".

The report - published on the Institute for Science and International Security website - says the research includes computer models that could only be used to develop a nuclear bomb trigger.

It documents alleged Iranian work on the kind of implosion device that would be needed to detonate a nuclear weapon.

On Wednesday, a defiant Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country would not budge "one iota" from its nuclear programme.

He said the report was based on "empty claims" provided by the US.

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Media captionAli Ashgar Soltanieh, Iranian ambassador to IAEA: "This report is unbalanced"

"Why do you damage the [UN] agency's dignity because of America's invalid claims?" he said in a televised speech.

Addressing the US he added: "We will not build two bombs in the face of your 20,000. We will develop something that you cannot respond to, which is ethics, humanity, solidarity and justice.

"You should know that no enemy of the Iranian people has ever tasted victory."

'Additional pressure'

Britain and France voiced their "utmost concern regarding the military dimension to Iran's nuclear programme in the light of ... [the] IAEA report".

In a joint statement, the two governments "made clear their determination to seek new powerful sanctions if Iran refuses to cooperate".

"Our goal remains to ensure that Iran fully adheres to its international obligations," it added.

Earlier, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the seriousness of the report warranted a meeting of the UN Security Council.

"If Iran refuses to conform to the demands of the international community and refuses any serious co-operation, we stand ready to adopt, with other willing countries, sanctions on an unprecedented scale," he told French radio.

A senior US official said Washington would consult with partners on "additional" pressure and sanctions on Tehran.

"We don't take anything off the table when we look at sanctions. We believe there is a broad spectrum of action we could take," the official said, quoted by AFP news agency.

The EU said the report "seriously aggravates" existing concerns.

"Overall these findings strongly indicate the existence of a fully-fledged nuclear weapons development programme in Iran," said a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Baroness Ashton represents six world powers - the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US - in stalled negotiations with Iran over its uranium enrichment programme.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says China is also unlikely to support further sanctions against Iran.

  • How an implosion device could trigger a nuclear bomb
  • Cross section of implosion device
  • 1. Detonators triggered
  • 2. Explosives create shock- waves and compress core
  • 3. Initiator kick-starts the fission process
  • 4. Compressed fissile core (of uranium or plutonium) becomes unstable and starts nuclear chain reaction
  • 5. Tamper layer contains neutrons and expansion briefly, to maximise fission