Iran and Russia both lashed out against new EU sanctions imposed on Monday. Despite the row, Tehran officials on Tuesday told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it will resume six-party Iran nuclear talks in September.
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The EU's new sanctions, adopted Monday, put sharp limits on new oil and gas investment and curb financial links with Iran. Canada also slapped Iran with similar sanctions Monday, according to RTT News, and on June 24 the US Congress passed curbs on dealing with Iran's banking and energy sectors.
Russia, as a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council, has signed on to four rounds of sanctions against Iran already, but doesn't wish to take a harder line. Moscow said the EU's tough new sanctions were counter-productive and worked at cross-purposes with a six-nation effort – which includes Russia – to resolve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, according to the Associated Press.
The EU's unilateral move "not only undermines our joint strength in the search for a political-diplomatic resolution of the situation around Iran's nuclear program but demonstrates scorn for the carefully developed and agreed-upon position of the UN Security Council resolution," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
But Russia has also had strong words for Iran, following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's outburst over the weekend in which he accused Moscow of bowing to Western powers.
In a statement Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it welcomed the resumption of six-party talks and added there was no place for heated rhetoric out of Tehran. The statement continued:
We would like to specially underline that for us the recent public statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are categorically unacceptable: they distort Russia’s objective approach, our independent, constructive stance on Iran’s nuclear program, aimed to find a political and diplomatic solution, amid the justified concerns of the international community.
We believe that instead of sterile and irresponsible rhetoric Iran’s leadership ought to take concrete constructive steps towards the speediest settlement of the current situation, for which Russia and the entire Group of Six have been long and persistently calling.
Tehran insists its program is for peaceful, civilian research purposes only. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast on Tuesday called the EU's new sanctions "a hostile move against Iran," according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
"The EU takes its steps under the influence of the pressure impose by the United States, and it does so with eyes that are blind-folded, which leads to losing both its identity and its independence.
"... These sanctions neither assist the process of negotiations, nor are able to impose any harm in the will of the Iranian nation for materializing their natural rights regarding their peaceful nuclear program.”
"... The Islamic Republic of Iran has many times made moves aimed at generating a positive atmosphere for proceeding towards problem solving, while that union’s move just further complicated the situation."
Despite the Islamic Republic's defiant response, Iran says it is ready to rejoin international talks on its nuclear program "without conditions" in September, according to reports.
"Iran will resume nuclear talks with the West in September," the Islamic Republic's English-language Press TV quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying on Tuesday, according to Agence France-Presse. "Iran wants Turkey and Brazil to participate in the negotiations."
Those two countries joined Iran in signing a May 17 statement in which Iran agreed to send its uranium to Turkey for enrichment, but that deal has not gained broader support, according to the Tehran Times. Highly enriched uranium can be used in nuclear bombs, and the West is focused on denying Iran that capability.
Ahmadinejad's statement came after Iran handed a letter to the global nuclear watchdog agency, according to Reuters.
Talking of a letter that Iran handed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran's envoy to the UN agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said: "The clear message of this letter was Iran's complete readiness to hold negotiations over the fuel for the Tehran reactor without any conditions."
The announcement appeared to be an Iranian signal of willingness to negotiate as a net of UN, EU and US sanctions tightens around it, but it was not clear that the quick offer of fuel swap talks would be enough to placate world powers.