The Russian Gazprom firm, which said last month it wants to invest in Israeli gas fields, is defying sanctions and working with Iran, according to the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency.

The news agency quoted Gazprom Neft director Alexander Dyukov as saying the Russian firm plans to carry on working with the Iranian government. "The company continues holding negotiations over two Iranian oil fields, but so far, the parties have not reached any agreements," he added.

Last month, Gazprom Neft and the National Iranian Oil Company signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop oil fields and to study the development of two other Iranian oilfields.

The United Nations has placed sanctions against Iran in an effort to force it to comply with U.N. demands for inspections of its nuclear projects.

Gazprom also is eyeing Israel, as reported last month. Its deputy chief executive Alexander Medvedev told reporters, "We are carefully looking at this opportunity. We are a world energy company and we are going in the direction where economic opportunities can be seen.

He said Gazprom may purchase a 50 percent stake in a partner for exploration licenses of Israel's Mediterranean coast off the port city of Ashdod.

Further north, a consortium of Israel and American firms are drilling for gas and oil in the mammoth Leviathan fields off the Haifa coast. Since the discovery earlier this year, Lebanon and Hizbullah have claimed the fields are in Lebanese territory.