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12 January 2012 - 22:57

A senior Russian official warns the European Union not to join US oil sanctions against Iran because the measure will have adverse economic consequences for the bloc's member states.

“If the EU follows the Americans and imposes an embargo on purchases of Iranian oil…then the Europeans will suffer first and foremost, and not the US, it has plenty of its own reserves,” Secretary of Russia's National Security Council Nikolai Patrushev told Interfax.

He added that considering the long-term economic problems in the eurozone, a move like that would only deteriorate the situation.

The official said the Russian government is aware of EU's plans to impose new sanctions against Iran in its upcoming meeting on January 23.

"The European Union is our most important trade, economic and political partner. The euro is the second most important currency in our state reserves. It is therefore fundamentally important for Russia that the EU should not weaken, that it should become stronger as one of the centers of the present-day world order," he stated.

Patrushev said the United States' allegation that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, which constitutes Washington's main justification for imposing new sanctions against Tehran, has never been proved.

“We have heard for years and years that the Iranians are going to build an atomic bomb in the next few weeks. But the real existence of a military component of Iran's nuclear program has never been demonstrated,” he added.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday that his country would not join US and European sanctions against Iran's oil sector which aim to embargo the country's crude exports.

The EU foreign ministers are expected to hold a meeting later this month on January 23 to discuss proposed embargo on Iran's oil exports.

EU members have so far failed to reach a final agreement on such details as the exact timing of the sanctions and their diplomats say it may take months before sanctions actually enter into force given the critical economic conditions facing European countries.
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