UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Moscow believes there is no room for further U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Friday.
"We believe the sanctions track in the Security Council has been exhausted," he told reporters in response to a question about Iran and its nuclear program. "We continue to believe very strongly that negotiations should continue with Iran."
The United States and European powers, trying to further isolate Iran, have seized on a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency saying Iran appeared to have worked on designing an atom bomb. They have expanded national sanctions against Tehran and suggested the U.N. council might follow suit.
Russia reluctantly supported four rounds of U.N. sanctions against Iran after working hard with China to dilute the measures before they were approved. Churkin's remarks may indicate that Moscow's tolerance for expanding U.N. punitive measures against the Islamic Republic have run out.
Churkin reiterated Moscow's view that negotiations between the five permanent Security Council members and Germany with Tehran had been undermined by the latest IAEA report. Iran rejects Western allegations that it is developing nuclear arms under cover of a civilian atomic energy program.
"We were quite upset that that effort was -- we hope ... not entirely derailed, but interrupted by recent developments when the IAEA came up with a report which was played up more as a PR exercise than a serious nuclear report," he said.
The report contained "very little new information," Churkin added.
Churkin also criticized the push by Western and Arab nations to isolate Syria. He said threats against both Syria and Iran were escalating in an unhelpful way.
"The confrontation scenario is being played out not only with regard to Syria but with regard to Iran as well," he said. "All those threats and insinuations of military action against Iran, they don't help at all."
Russia recently vetoed a European-drafted resolution on Syria which would have condemned its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and threatened possible future sanctions.