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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed on Wednesday that serious additional sanctions must be considered if Iran does not respond to proposals to end a nuclear standoff.
Foreign ministers from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China -- and a German official were gathering at the United Nations to continue discussions about Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons.
Tehran insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity and has rejected Security Council demands that it suspend all sensitive nuclear activities, including its uranium enrichment program.
"Iran has been violating too many of its international commitments," Obama said after meeting Medvedev.
Medvedev made clear that Moscow was ready to back further sanctions against the Islamic Republic unless it changes course on its nuclear program, despite Russia's general reluctance to support such punitive measures.
"Russia's position is simple," he said. "Sanctions are seldom productive but they are sometimes inevitable."
Earlier, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the U.N. General Assembly that Iran would be making a "tragic mistake" if it thought the world would not respond to its nuclear program.
The six powers meeting at the United Nations have offered Iran economic and political incentives if it stops enriching uranium but Tehran has yet to officially reply. In a television interview, Sarkozy said Iran has until the end of the year to respond. Continued...
President Obama’s biggest foreign policy gamble appeared to pay off last night as Russia opened the door to punishing new sanctions on Iran to halt its nuclear programme.
Emerging from his first meeting with Mr Obama since the scrapping of the Eastern Europe missile shield, Dmitri Medvedev conceded that “in some cases, sanctions are inevitable.”