Russia’s foreign minister on Thursday brushed off Iran’s recent criticism as an emotional outburst and expressed frustration with Tehran in the standoff over its nuclear program.
The comments indicated growing dismay with Iran in Russia, whose support had somewhat buffered Tehran against calls in the West for tougher action.
After long resistance, Russia is now supporting possible new sanctions against Iran over concern that its is developing nuclear weapons. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took Russia to task for this on Wednesday, saying it was difficult to gauge whether the Kremlin was a friend or an enemy.
“This statement is being interpreted as emotional,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference.
He lamented that, despite Russia’s years of efforts to resolve the dispute, “the response from the Iranian side has been unsatisfactory.”
Russia and Iran have cultivated close relations for years, including Russia’s construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant that many critics say is connected to Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons. Russia also signed a contract in 2007 to sell S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran, which would substantially increase Iran’s defense capacities, though none have been delivered.