Russia does not exclude sanctions on Iran: Kremlin

MOSCOW: Iran should improve its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog and new sanctions are not excluded if Tehran fails to fulfil its obligations, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"On the subject of sanctions, Russia's position remains unchanged. Russia still believes that Iran should more actively and broadly cooperate with the IAEA and other countries," the spokeswoman Natalia Timakova told reporters.

"If these obligations are not fulfilled no one can exclude the application of sanctions."

She said Medvedev had conveyed this message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during talks in Moscow Monday. Netanyahu was scheduled to meet Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

During his talks with Medvedev in Moscow, Netanyahu had asked Russia, which is believed to wield significant influence with Tehran, to help slap "biting" sanctions on the nation.

Russia has long said it favours peaceful resolution to the Iranian problem but signs have emerged over the past weeks that the Kremlin is finally losing patience with the Islamic republic over its defiance in the nuclear crisis.

Israel, considered to be the Middle East's sole, if undeclared, nuclear power, views Iran as its top enemy after statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Jewish state was doomed to be "wiped off the map".

Bringing Moscow on board for harsher sanctions has been a key goal of Israel and the United States. Russia has long-standing ties with Tehran and is helping to build Iran's first civilian nuclear power plant in the city of Bushehr.