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US approves new Iran sanctions, Russia: step won’t end nuclear issue

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Al Ahed news

Russia said on Thursday a vote by the US House of Representatives to tighten sanctions against Iran would not help resolve the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that United Nations Security Council sanctions already in place against Tehran were sufficient. He suggested the US bill, which still has more steps to clear before becoming law, was counterproductive.

“Any additional sanctions are actually aimed at the economic strangulation of Iran, but not at solving the problem of non-proliferation,” Gatilov told Interfax news agency. “What has been done through the Security Council is quite adequate and sufficient.”

This comes after the US House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday to tighten sanctions on Iran, days before President-elect Sheikh Hassan Rouhani is sworn in.

The vote also highlighted a growing divide between Congress and the Obama administration on Iran policy ahead of international talks on the nuclear program in coming months. Iran insists the nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes.

The bill would cut Iran’s oil exports by another 1 million barrels per day over a year to near zero, in an attempt to reduce the flow of funds to the Islamic Republic. It is the first sanctions bill to put a number on exactly how much Iran’s oil exports would be cut.

The Treasury Department last week partially eased sanctions on Iran by expanding a list of medical devices that can be exported there without special permission.

One of the 20 lawmakers to vote against the bill, Jim McDermott, a Washington-state Democrat, said shortly before the vote that the rush to sanction Iran before Rouhani takes office could hurt efforts to deflate the nuclear issue.

“It’s a dangerous sign to send and it limits our ability to find a diplomatic solution to nuclear arms in Iran,” McDermott said.

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