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Russia Blames U.S. For Pushing Iran To Break Deal

GERMANU -- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attends a panel discussion during the 55th Munich Security Conference in Munich, February 16, 2019

A senior Russian diplomat says that U.S. sanctions have provoked Iran's move to break the limit set on its uranium stockpiles.

Iran acknowledged Monday it had exceeded the limit set on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles by a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, its first major departure from the agreement a year after Washington unilaterally withdrew from it.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov noted that Iran had warned of its move in advance. He urged all parties to "avoid escalation," saying that Iran's move "causes regret, but shouldn't be overdramatized."

Ryabkov said the development is a "natural result" of the U.S.'s maximum pressure campaign.

He added that Iran was facing "unprecedented and unthinkable" U.S. sanctions, including an oil trade embargo, which are an attempt to "strangle" the country.