UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 6 — Russia said Wednesday that Iran should be granted more time to respond to a package of incentives that the United States and five other powerful nations have offered Tehran to freeze its uranium enrichment efforts, a stance that may slow U.S. and European efforts to impose U.N. sanctions on Tehran.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, said the six nations should continue negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program. He dismissed assertions by the United States, Britain and France that Tehran had missed a deadline this week to respond to the offer, which would make a push for U.N. sanctions inevitable.
“We haven’t set any deadlines for their response,” he said. “We have some negotiating opportunities, and rather than focus almost entirely on sanctions we should focus on what those opportunities should be.”
Churkin’s remarks raised the prospect of renewed strains between Washington and Moscow over Iran policy during the final months of President Bush’s tenure. Administration officials say I…