Russia complained to the Security Council on Monday about what UN diplomats said was Germany's seizure of items bound for a nuclear power plant in Iran, saying such moves were "not in line" with UN rules.
Russia had previously told members of the council's Iran sanctions committee it was furious about Germany's seizure of technology bound for the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran and the questioning of several men connected with the deal, UN diplomats told Reuters.
Without mentioning Germany, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told council members during a meeting on UN sanctions against Tehran Moscow was unhappy with the moves by "third states" to prevent the delivery of certain items to Iran.
Churkin described such restrictions, which go beyond four rounds of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, as "unacceptable" and "not in line" with council resolutions.
"Strict compliance with Security Council resolutions ... requires the need for member states to refrain from the use of additional limitation constraints ... especially ones of an extra-territorial nature," he said.
Russia's dispute with Germany arose, diplomats said on condition of anonymity, after equipment several Germans had acquired on behalf of Russia and its Bushehr light-water reactor in Iran was seized by German authorities and the Germans involved held for questioning.
The first UN sanctions resolution against Iran, passed in 2006, exempted technology for light-water reactors like Bushehr, which are seen as less of a proliferation risk than heavy-water reactors, the spent fuel from which is rich in bomb-grade plutonium. Bushehr is scheduled to open in August.
Not allowed under EU rules
But the European Union's own directives on implementing UN steps against Iran go further than the UN sanctions and do not exempt the Bushehr reactor, diplomats say.
"It may be allowed under Security Council resolutions, but it's not allowed under EU rules," a European diplomat told Reuters. "Perhaps Russia wasn't aware of it."
Germany's UN mission had no immediate comment.
Moscow has also complained about recent US and EU moves to tighten their own unilateral sanctions against Iran, steps they took after the council approved a fourth round of UN sanctions against Tehran earlier this month.
Iran says its atomic program is aimed at generating electricity, not developing arms, as Western powers suspect.
Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu, chairman of the Iran sanctions committee, told the Security Council his panel had received several official notifications about items intended for use in Bushehr from unnamed UN member states, which council envoys said were Germany and Russia.
Western diplomats say the Bushehr dispute highlights the gulf between countries like Russia and China, which have continued to do business with Iran despite four rounds of UN sanctions, and Western powers which have been making it increasingly difficult to trade with Tehran.