Source AP ©

Russia's Lavrov warns West over use of force against Iran

No unilateral sanctions against Tehran will be supported by Russia. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday warned against the use of force in Iran.

"We are convinced that no modern problem has a military solution, and that applies to the Iranian nuclear program as well," Lavrov said after talks with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

"We are seriously concerned about increasingly frequent reports that military action against Iran is being seriously considered," Lavrov added.

Kouchner, who is on his first trip to Moscow as foreign minister, made waves over the weekend by saying the international community must be prepared for the possibility of war in the event that Iran obtains atomic weapons.

Kouchner had also said that European leaders were considering their own economic sanctions against Iran over its refusal to forgo parts of its nuclear program, indicating that penalties imposed by the U.N. Security Council have not been effective.

Lavrov criticized the idea of unilateral sanctions by the EU or the United States.

"If we agreed to work collectively and that is represented in collective decisions made by the U.N. Security Council, then what purpose would unilateral sanctions have?" he said.

Kouchner said negotiations are necessary to avert the possibility of war, and suggested the world should not shy away from sanctions to pressure Iran, which the United States and some allies believe is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

"The worst thing to happen would be a war, and in order to avoid it, we need to continue talks, and be firm enough regarding sanctions," Kouchner said.

"We have to work on precise sanctions that would demonstrate the world community's serious approach to this problem."

But Lavrov signaled Moscow's opposition to a third round of U.N. sanctions, praising an agreement the International Atomic Energy Agency, reached with Iran aimed at resolving outstanding issues.

"We continue to adhere to that agreement and believe that the Security Council should not take action outside the framework of support for the IAEA," Lavrov said.

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