(Stop Fundamentalism) – News agencies report that the United States pressed Russia on Friday to halt missile sales to Iran amid international efforts to defuse a standoff with Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.
â€œWe think it’s time for countries to use their leverage individually, and we think it’s time for countries to band together collectively to make the same effort,â€ said Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns.
Burns’ call for individual nations to do what they can to isolate Iran, sets up an alternate way to apply pressure to the clerical regime outside the U.N. Security Council’s current review of the Iranian nuclear program. The council is now divided, however, over whether to apply sanctions to the rich oil exporter.
Beyond those safeguards, â€œWe think it’s very important that countries like Russia, for instance, freeze any arms sales planned for Iranâ€ Burns said.
Russia announced plans last year to sell 29 sophisticated Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran under a contract worth about $700 million.
â€œWe hope and we trust that deal will not go forward because this is not time for business as usual with the Iranian government,â€ Burns said.
Russian officials had said earlier Friday that the deal is still on, despite U.S. pressure.