|Putin says additional sanctions against Iran are ‘counterproductive’||
TEHRAN – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday praised the U.S. role in forging an interim deal over Iran's nuclear program but said he hoped a U.S. decision to broaden a blacklist of companies under existing sanctions would not undermine progress toward a comprehensive agreement, Reuters reported.
In an annual news conference, Putin said the deal reached last month between Iran and global powers would have been impossible without the "pragmatic position" of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration.
Iranian officials have said that the U.S. decision to blacklist an additional 19 Iranian companies and individuals under existing sanctions was against the spirit of the deal.
"As for sanctions, I am certain that this is a counterproductive decision," Putin said. "I hope... movements in this direction will not be a barrier to all of us moving forward toward a solution to the Iranian nuclear problem."
Russia approved four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activities but has sharply criticized additional punitive measures imposed by the United States and Europe.
Putin, whose country built Iran's first nuclear power plant, said Iran had the right to a peaceful nuclear program and "the international community has no right to demand any discriminatory restrictions on it."
After intensive talks in Geneva, the foreign ministers of Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) struck an interim deal on November 24, based on which Iran agreed not to expand its nuclear program and to suspend its 20 percent uranium enrichment in return for a limited easing of the sanctions imposed on the country.
According to the agreement, over the course of six months, Iran and the six countries of the 5+1 group will draw up a comprehensive nuclear deal which will lead to a lifting of the sanctions on Iran and Iran will provide the world verifiable guarantees that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
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