US Sanctions on Iran Draw Sharp Criticism From Russia

New Iran sanctions imposed by western nations have led to a war of words between eastern and western countries as Russia joins the ranks by vehemently opposing the new measures.

The U.S., U.K. and Canada imposed new sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors Monday in an effort to curb the Mideast nation's nuclear program.

The move came independent of the U.N. Security Council, which typically issues sanctions.

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Russian government officials scolded the move by the three countries.

"We again underline that the Russian Federation considers such extraterritorial measures unacceptable and contradictory to international law," Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in the statement.

The sanctions tighten restrictions on Iran's central bank and commercial banks. The measures also hit oil and gas companies that do business with Iran, effectively slashing the country's ability to refine and invest in its gas industry.

The European Union is expected to join the U.S., U.K. and Canada by adding its own sanctions against Iran.

The sanctions are an apparent response to the recent announcement by the U.N. Atomic Energy Agency that said Iran might be continuing to develop nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

But Russia, which sits across the Caspian Sea from Iran, maintains that increased sanctions will not help spark talks with Iran, which the U.N. Security Council member nations want.

"Such practices ... seriously complicate efforts for constructive dialogue with Tehran," Lukashevich said.

Iranian officials maintain the country's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, including providing energy to its nearly 80 million residents.

The western nations argue that sanctions are necessary after numerous failed attempts to negotiate with Iran.

But Russian officials said that sanctions could permanently end talks between Iran and the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, China, and Russia.

"Strengthening sanctions pressure, which for some of our partners is becoming practically an end in itself, will not promote increased readiness on Iran's part to sit down at the negotiating table," Lukashevich said.

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