Russia says opposes deadlines for Iran response

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Thursday it opposed any artificial deadlines being issued to Iran to force it to respond to incentives from world powers on suspending its nuclear activities.

But it also warned Tehran against dragging out the process.

Western powers suspect Iran is seeking to build atomic bombs. The Islamic Republic says its nuclear program is a peaceful drive aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more of its oil and gas.

Six world powers, including Russia, last month offered Iran economic and other incentives in return for it suspending uranium enrichment, which the Islamic Republic has repeatedly refused to do.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore that artificial deadlines complicated the issue.

“There should be no artificial limits from the point of view of extreme time frames, such as ‘today or never’, just as there should be no endless dragging out of the process,” Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Iran this week that it faced more sanctions if it defied a two-week deadline to curb its nuclear program.

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