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Friday, September 11, 2009

Russia says 'nyet' on new Iran sanctions

On Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu disappeared for about ten hours. It now appears that Prime Minister Netanyahu traveled to Russia for an urgent meeting relating to Iran (Moscow is about a 3.5 hour flight from Tel Aviv), probably relating to the sale of anti-aircraft missiles to the Islamist regime.
But by Wednesday, Israel's largest daily, Yediot Ahronot, was reporting that Netanyahu had flown secretly to Moscow to voice concern over the possible sale of Russian anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. Other Israeli newspapers published similar accounts, saying Netanyahu had made the 15-hour trip on a private plane leased from a local business mogul.

People familiar with Netanyahu's movements said the plane belonged to Yossi Meiman, head of the Merhav Group, an Israeli conglomerate with energy and media interests. Netanyahu leased the plane - instead of using a government aircraft - to help ensure secrecy, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Merhav had no comment.


The Haaretz daily said Netanyahu discussed Russian arms deals with Iran and Syria, and that Israel presented evidence that Russian arms were making their way to Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. In another report, the paper said the talks were also focused on sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles that Russia has agreed to sell to Iran. The delivery of the S-300 missiles would make it much more difficult for Israel to carry out an attack on Iran.

The reported visit follows the hijacking last month of a freighter that was later intercepted by Russia off Cape Verde, thousands of miles from the Algerian port where it was supposed to have docked. A Russian maritime expert and the European Union's top anti-piracy official have suggested the Arctic Sea may have been carrying missiles bound for Iran. Israeli media have speculated the Mossad tipped off the Russians to the elicit cargo.

As the rumors swirled of clandestine talks, Russian officials remained silent. "We have seen these reports in various media, and you know that not all the details add up, but there is nothing more I can tell you," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko was quoted as saying Thursday.

The Russian daily Kommersant, citing a "highly placed source in the Kremlin," confirmed the visit and speculated the talks had been on an extremely urgent matter, "like Israel updating Russia on its intention to attack Iran."
The Prime Minister's office still has not confirmed whether Netanyahu went to Russia. But if he did go to Russia and he tried to convince the Russians to agree to harsher sanctions against Iran (which seems plausible), he apparently struck out.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear Thursday that Moscow wouldn't back any new rounds of tough sanctions against Iran in the United Nations Security Council, and he dismissed a U.S. timetable for securing progress from Iran on ending its nuclear-fuel program.

Mr. Lavrov's comments in Moscow led U.S. officials to acknowledge that new U.N. sanctions against Iran were now unlikely in the near term -- endangering a major element of President Barack Obama's high-profile strategy for diplomacy in the Middle East. "We're pretty disappointed with the Russian position so far," a senior U.S. official said.


Mr. Lavrov appeared to dismiss U.S. and Israeli warnings of urgency. If Iran tried to enrich uranium to weapons grade, he said, it would have to reconfigure its cascades of centrifuges, a move that would immediately be picked up by cameras monitored by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. There would be time to respond, he said.

Western nuclear analysts say that if Iran can develop enough highly enriched uranium it could "break out" relatively quickly to manufacture a working weapon. Iran says it wants enriched uranium only for civilian purposes.
In the picture at the top, President Obama seems to be missing something that he lost in Putin's office earlier this year. He is missing America's leading position in world affairs, its role as a superpower - as the only superpower since the fall of Communism 20 years ago - and its exceptionalism. Those are things that Obama forfeited when he denied America's exceptionalism and adopted the European multicultural model in which all countries and governments are created equal and deserving of equal 'respect.' President Obama has made the world leaderless.

In a leaderless world, Israel will have little choice but to act militarily against Iran, which constitutes an existential danger to the Jewish state. The United States will be blamed and will face at least some of the blowback from that attack. Under the circumstances, it probably makes sense for the United States to join in the attack; if you're going to be hit anyway, you may as well do something that will restore your deterrence power in the eyes of the world.

But don't hold your breaths waiting for Obama to join in an Israeli attack on Iran. Attacking Iran, rather than continuing to try to 'talk' as President Obama has done futilely for the last eight months, would constitute an admission that the vapid slogans on which he was elected President last year offered no hope and no change to the American people. That's why there is no Plan B and that's why Americans who understand the chess game of international relations are urging President Obama to place a credible military option on the table.

The world is a cruel place. What else could go wrong?


See the Washington Post's editorial on this story in Friday's editions:
There's no reason to publicly rule out talks. But the administration has said all along that it would seek tough sanctions against Iran unless it responded meaningfully to an offer of dialogue. The time has come for it to show whether it can deliver on that promise. Can Russia, which has been the focus of much diplomatic stroking during the past seven months, be persuaded to support measures such as a ban on arms or gasoline sales to Iran? Will European governments, which remain among Iran's largest trading partners, finally curtail exports and investments? Such sanctions might not work; the best hope for stopping Iran's nuclear program lies in the possibility that domestic upheaval will overturn Mr. Khamenei's regime. But, if the Obama administration cannot bring more pressure to bear, it will vindicate Mr. Ahmadinejad's position, which is that "the Iranian nation will never be harmed under any circumstances" for its defiance of the United Nations.
The only way that Iran will be harmed for its nuclear program is if Israel attacks it militarily. Pacifist President Obama is unwilling to attack Iran or anyone else, and therefore the United States will not attack Iran. Moreover, without a credible military threat there is no possibility of imposing sanctions against Iran, let alone of those sanctions being effective.


At 1:48 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Maybe Netanyahu told
Putin if Iran nukes us in any way (thru Hezbalah or Hamas), they can expect an Israeli nuclear device over Moscow.

At 5:54 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Russian response was entirely predictable. Russia and China are happy to weaken the West. Sanctions against Iran are going to go nowhere.


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