December 20, 2006 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized Western powers today for trying to punish Iran in the UN Security Council's draft resolution on Iran's nuclear program.
Lavrov said Western powers were trying to "turn the situation in their favor" by inserting into the resolution statements that would "de facto lift all limits on restrictions" and could "sever trade and economic ties with Iran in completely legitimate areas."
Lavrov, speaking at a Moscow news conference, also said Russia objects to a proposal to impose a travel ban on specific Iranian officials.
He said such a ban would introduce an unwarranted "element of punishment."
The UN resolution was drafted by Britain and France, along with Germany, and distributed to the Security Council's 15 members. No date for a vote has yet been set because of differences with Russia and China.
A letter from Iranian UN Ambassador Javad Zarif says peace and security cannot be achieved in the Middle East while the Israeli arsenal threatens the region.
The letter cited recent comments by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which Olmert appeared to list Israel among countries that have nuclear weapons.
Olmert's office said the comments were misunderstood.
Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, but has never confirmed such reports.
(compiled from agency reports)
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