Russia Will Oppose Any 'Punishing' Iran Sanctions
As a draft proposal for Iran sanctions is expected to be delivered to the UN Security Council for consideration this week, Iran’s Russian protectors dismissed the notion of any sanctions for punishment after the Iranian regime ignored the Security Council’s deadline for ending enrichment activity. Instead, Russian Foreign Minister said that Russia “will oppose any attempts to use the Security Council to punish Iran or use Iran’s program in order to promote the ideas of regime change there.”
The veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council has essentially assured that, while the UN body will be taking up the Iranian crisis this week, little if any tangible consequences will be dealt out to the bellicose Islamic Republic. Even after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a clear war ultimatum to Europe, threatening it with the spread of Jihad to its soil for supporting Israel, Moscow continues to fervently protect its key trading partner.
Russia is currently under contract for US$800 million to complete construction of the light water nuclear reactor at Bushehr. In attempts to minimize Russian losses and thus bring them into agreement on other aspects of the proposed Iranian sanctions, it was agreed by the US and Europe that Russia would be permitted to complete the construction regardless of the nuclear nature of the Iranian threat. This attempted acquiescence has apparently failed and the Russian defense of Iran continues in earnest.
Though the past three years of talks between various parties and Iran have netted no results, Sergey Lavrov insisted that “Any measures of influence should encourage creating conditions for talks.” The Iranian condition for talks has consistently been that it will not halt enrichment during any talks while the European and American position has been to demand that talks must follow enrichment cessation.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki rejected this position once more, saying, “We don’t see any logic to suspending uranium enrichment. Enrichment of uranium by Iran is a legal action derived from its membership rights in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.” Critics dismiss the Iranian defense under NPT rights, as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty they cite was admittedly broken in their acquisition of centrifuges, various other nuclear equipment and scientific expertise from the AQ Khan international proliferation network.
But as Mottaki continued on to invite talks, France’s Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie indicated that his veto-wielding country would be willing to shelve the push for sanctions as well if Iran showed “steps forward.” The French minister said, “If Iran does display good will, France and France’s partners are ready to suspend the procedure in front of the security council. The only condition is that there are indeed steps forward.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mottaki continued to remark about talks. “Dialogue is the best way to reach an understanding,” Mottaki said. But the ‘understanding’ he speaks of is not one of enrichment cessation or finding an alternative compromise. “We are ready to hold talks about the reason for enrichment.” Talks on the issue with Iran are seen by the United States as a fruitless and seemingly endless endeavor by Iranian design, which is why the US insists on cessation before entering into any talks.
When these latest developments are placed in context with the lack of unity against a North Korean regime openly declaring nuclear weapons, testing them and threatening their use, there is little reason to question the Iranian regime’s swagger. The Iranian confidence continues to build and the likelihood of meaningful sanctions against the regime ever more remote.