Russia rejected the idea of sanctions against Iran on Friday saying they were not effective and that efforts to solve the dispute should focus on further political and diplomatic efforts.
"I know of no instances in world practice and previous experience in which sanctions have achieved their aim and proved effective," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters during a trip to Russia's Far East.
"Moreover, I believe that the question is not so serious at the moment for the UN Security Council or the group of six to consider any introduction of sanctions. Russia stands for further political and diplomatic efforts to settle the issue."
The Security Council passed a legally binding resolution on July 31 telling Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment programme within 30 days or risk sanctions.
Iran says it is enriching uranium solely to generate electricity. The West suspects the Iranian nuclear programme is a front for building atom bombs.
Meanwhile, France said on Friday it was important to avoid escalating a dispute with Iran over its nuclear programme because this could trigger a "clash of civilisations" between the West and the Muslim world.
Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Iran's response to an offer of incentives aimed at persuading it to halt its nuclear activities was not satisfactory.
But he said it was important to have a dialogue with Iran because it was a major player in the Middle East.
President Jacques Chirac, speaking after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said only that Iran's response was "ambiguous."
Iran offered on Tuesday to start talks over its nuclear programme but there was no sign it had agreed to a UN Security Council demand that it freeze uranium enrichment by August 31 or face the prospect of sanctions.
"For the moment it is not satisfactory," Douste-Blazy said on RTL radio.
"But the worst thing would be to escalate into a confrontation with Iran on the one hand, and the Muslim world with Iran, and the West. "That would be the clash of the civilisations that France today is practically alone in trying to avoid."
The five permanent United Nations Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany, offered Iran incentives to stop nuclear enrichment.
"We talked about the problems of Iran and the response Iran has given which we are wondering about because it is a bit ambiguous," Chirac said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
US and German leaders said that Iran's 21-page response to the incentives offer was unsatisfactory because it did not specifically agree to stop purifying uranium.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Friday that Teheran's reply had touched on "many different elements, different from the ones that we had proposed."
"For that reason we will have to hold a dialogue session ... or a conversation with the ... Iranians to improve upon some of the expressions and meanings of the subject matter treated in its document," he told Spain's RNE state radio.
But while Washington, backed by closest ally Britain, has said the six powers will move quickly to adopt sanctions if Iran disregards the deadline.
Source: China Daily