April 14, 2015 / 4:30 AM / 5 years ago

U.S. raises concerns over Russia lifting ban on missiles to Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry raised concerns with his Russian counterpart over Russia’s decision to lift a ban on missile deliveries to Iran, the White House said on Monday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest did not provide details of Kerry’s exchange with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “It was an opportunity for Secretary Kerry to raise our concerns,” Earnest said.

Russia cleared the way on Monday for missile system deliveries to Iran and started an oil-for-goods swap, signaling that Moscow may have a head start in the race to benefit from an eventual lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

The moves come after world powers, including Russia, reached an interim deal with Iran this month on curbing its nuclear program.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said the United States was raising its concern over Russia’s sale of missiles “through all appropriate diplomatic channels.”

Russia’s decision to start an oil-for-goods swap could also raise sanctions concerns, Earnest said.

Earnest said the oil-for-goods proposal could conflict with the sanctions regime imposed on Iran by the United States and other Western nations.

The missile system plan raises different concerns, he said.

Reporting by Susan Heavey, Phil Stewart, Doina Chiacu and Julia Edwards; Editing by Emily Stephenson and Ted Botha

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