Russia said on Tuesday new sanctions unveiled by Western states against Iran over its nuclear drive were unacceptable and illegal, warning they risked impeding the chance of dialogue with Tehran.
"Russia sees such measures as unacceptable and against international law," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "This practice seriously complicates moves for constructive dialogue with Tehran."
The United States as well as Britain and Canada unveiled new sanctions measures aimed at pressuring Tehran after the publication of the most damning report yet about the Iranian nuclear programme by the UN nuclear watchdog.
The measures seek to limit the West's links with the Iranian Central Bank -- which has been key in funnelling proceeds of energy sales to Iran's government.
"Strengthening sanctions pressure -- which for some of our partners is also almost becoming an end in itself -- will not assist in increasing the readiness of Iran to sit down at the negotiating table," the foreign ministry said.
"We believe that the constant strengthening of sanctions has long ago gone beyond the the bounds of decisions on non-proliferation tasks surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme."
The International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report on Iran is the closest it has yet come to accusing Iran outright of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, an accusation long made by Western states but denied by Tehran.
Russia has however dismissed the importance of the report, describing it at the time as "a compilation of well-known facts that are intentionally presented in a politicised manner."
Moscow has said the report gave no basis for a new round of UN Security Council sanctions against Tehran, prompting Western states to impose the new unilateral measures as Russia could veto any resolution made at the UN.
Russia's relations with Iran sank to their worst level in years in 2010 as Moscow hardened its line against Tehran but ties appear to have been warming again in the last months.
by Martin Parry
(c) 2011 AFP
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