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Russia blasts U.S. and EU over additional Iran sanctions

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia sharply criticized the United States and European Union on Thursday for imposing additional sanctions against Iran beyond those approved by the U.N. Security Council last week with Moscow’s backing.

The deputy foreign minister called unilateral U.S. and EU sanctions “harmful” and warned the West it risks losing Moscow’s support for concerted efforts to rein in Tehran’s nuclear activity.

“We are extremely disappointed that neither the United States nor the European Union is heeding our calls to refrain from such steps,” Interfax and Itar-Tass news agencies news quoted Sergei Ryabkov as saying.

EU leaders agreed tighter sanctions on Thursday targeting Iran’s oil and gas sector, a day after the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on some Iranian banks, companies and Revolutionary Guard Corps members.

“We are drawing certain conclusions from this, including about the prospects for joint work” within the U.N. Security Council and the group of six nations leading global efforts to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear arms.

Russia appeared to be setting out a marker stressing that its support for Western efforts has its limits, after earning Tehran’s ire by voting in favor of a fourth round of U.N. sanctions in the Security Council on June 9.

Unilateral sanctions that go beyond U.N. measures “are not just harmful, they undermine the very foundation of our joint work with our partners in the sextet and the Security Council.”

The sextet refers to the five veto-wielding permanent Security Council members -- Russia, the United States, China, Britain and France -- plus Germany.

Ryabkov’s remarks may have been meant in part to mend strained relations with Iran, where Moscow has trade interests and is building a nuclear power plant -- and assure Russians the Kremlin is not doing the bidding of the United States.

At the same time, Ryabkov reiterated that Russia interprets that the U.N. sanctions prohibit it from delivering S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran under a contract the United States has urged Moscow not to fulfill.