Russia sharply criticized new U.S. sanctions against Iran on Monday, saying the measures to punish banks, insurance companies and shippers assisting Iran’s oil sales would harm Moscow's ties with Washington if Russian firms are affected.
Russia, which has long opposed sanctions beyond those approved by the UN Security Council to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program, called the measures "overt blackmail" and a "crude contradiction of international law."
The United States ceased most trade with Iran in 1996, when Congress passed The Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, after heavy lobbying by AIPAC. Since then it has put increasing pressure on other countries to reduce their business with the Islamic Republic.
"We are talking about restrictive measures not only against Iran but also affecting foreign companies and individuals working with it, including in the hydrocarbon extraction and transport, petrochemicals, finance and insurance industries," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"We consider efforts to ... impose internal American legislation on the entire world completely unacceptable," it said. "We reject methods of overt blackmail that the United States resorts to in relation to the companies and banks of other countries."
"Those in Washington should take into account that our bilateral relations will suffer seriously if Russian operators ... come under the effects of the American restrictions," the ministry said.
The West has put unprecedented pressure on Iran for its nuclear program.
However, Iran, as a signatory for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, has the right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Iran’s enrichment processes are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.