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Medvedev: Russia Could Back 'Smart' Iran Sanctions

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed possible new sanctions against Iran during the Russian president's visit to Paris.
President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia could consider approving what he calls "smart" sanctions against Iran if diplomatic efforts fail to persuade Tehran to take steps to ease international concerns over the Iranian nuclear program.

Speaking at a joint press conference on March 1 with his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Medvedev said he hopes sanctions can be avoided. But he said that if diplomatic efforts fail, any new United Nations sanctions against Iran should be "smart" and not target the Iranian civilian population.

"Sanctions must be at the limit of where dialogue is no longer possible," Medvedev said. "This is why we're discussing various initiatives, and we are ready to continue the discussion of this question with our partners. Although, of course, it would be good to avoid the sanctions."

France and the United States have been leading the push for tough new sanctions by the UN Security Council to punish Tehran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment work. Russia has previously been reluctant to support a fourth round of UN sanctions against the Islamic republic over the nuclear issue.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 1 said Washington was working "expeditiously and thoroughly" with countries on the Security Council on a set of new sanctions against Iran. Clinton said she expected a new Iran resolution to be up for debate in the Security Council within the "next several months."

compiled from agency reports