Russia says it will join sanctions against Iran

     US President Obama's biggest foreign policy gamble paid off last night as Russia agreed to join the campaign to impose new sanctions on Iran to halt that country's nuclear programme. Emerging from his first meeting with Obama since the Eastern Europe missile shield was scrapped, President Medvedev of Russia conceded: "In some cases, sanctions are inevitable". According to The Times, Obama went into the meeting, held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, ready to press Russia to support sanctions if Iran refused to address concerns about its nuclear activities. He emerged saying that Medvedev had agreed that "serious additional sanctions" must be considered if diplomatic efforts fail. That stance was reiterated later by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who emerged from a meeting of foreign ministers from the E3 + 3 countries - Britain, France, Germany, the US, Russia and China - to declare a united front on a policy of diplomacy and sanctions. Miliband called for a "serious response" from Iran at talks scheduled for October 1 if it wished to avoid sanctions. China was the only remaining Security Council power opposing sanctions on Iran, but the statement from the E3 + 3 suggested that it too was ready to consider them. In his address last night, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad failed to mention the nuclear issue but sparked a walkout by a handful of Western countries, including Britain, when he slammed Israel as racist and denounced Jewish influence in the world. There had been speculation that he would use even harsher rhetoric to deflect the focus from his disputed re-election and mounting allegations of human rights abuses. Diplomats said that the date of October 1 had been set to give world leaders time for bargaining during the Assembly. Western officials were pressing Arab leaders to get behind the effort. In 2006 the UN Security Council voted to ban the supply of nuclear- related technology and materials to Iran and to freeze the assets of key individuals and companies related to the enrichment programme. Two years later, the EU voted to impose financial sanctions. New sanctions under consideration range from a ban on foreign investment and the encouragement of capital flight to put pressure on Iran's currency to a ban on the export of equipment or technology for oil and gas exploration. A ban on refined petroleum exports is being considered.

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