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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Russia validates Western fears over Iran

Russia has admitted that Western fears that Iran is building a nuclear weapon are 'valid.'
Russia expressed greater concern over Iran’s nuclear programme on Tuesday, with one of the closest allies to Vladimir Putin, prime minister, describing western anxiety over Tehran’s plans as “valid”.

As Iran took an important step towards the possible manufacture of weapons grade uranium, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Presidential Security Council, said there was a “limit” to how much diplomacy could be used to solve the crisis.

In recent months, Dmitry Medvedev, president, has expressed growing concern over Iran’s programme, while Mr Putin – often regarded as the real source of power at the Kremlin – has resisted tough new United Nations sanctions against Tehran.

But following the announcement by Mahmoud Ahamdi-Nejad, Iran’s president, this week that Iran would produce uranium enriched to a 20 per cent level, Mr Patrushev, a former head of the FSB, the Russian security service, sharply criticised the move.

Mr Patrushev noted that Iran claimed it was not seeking nuclear weapons. But he told journalists in Moscow: “The actions it is taking, including when it began enriching low- enriched uranium to 20 per cent, raise doubts in other countries and those doubts are quite valid.” He added: “Political-diplomatic methods are important for a resolution, but there is a limit to everything.”
So will Russia support sanctions or won't they support sanctions? And if they will support sanctions, what sanctions will they support? Earlier this week, it was reported that Russia would only support sanctions that targeted Iran's nuclear program. Those are the same sanctions we've had for the last seven years, and it is long past the time where those can have any effect in time to stop Iran even if all the countries that have violated them suddenly buckled down and stopped violating them. But for what it's worth, Russia is said to be 'genuinely embarrassed' by Iran's thumbing its nose at the international community.

And then there's China, which is resisting any new sanctions at all.
China, however, remains firmly opposed and may maintain that stance whatever Russia decides. There is still doubt over whether the Kremlin will actually allow the passage of a sanctions resolution.

However, senior US diplomats believe that Iran's decision to press ahead with higher levels of enrichment has backfired. A senior US official said this was a "hollow" and "provocative" gesture that would make new sanctions more likely. "I think there is sufficient support in the council for sanctions," said the official. "The Iranians see the Russians clearly moving towards joining us in a sanctions resolution."

The official said there might be efforts to delay the passage of a resolution and to dilute it. "But I think before long it will be possible to achieve it," he said. "That means the Chinese will vote Yes or abstain, and I think they are likely to vote Yes."
Well, maybe. But it is long past time for delays. Delays are likely to mean that there will be no opportunity at all to try serious sanctions.

When the history of this period is written, it will be recognized that the entire crisis was caused by bumbling, inept and duplicit leaders who spoke out of both sides of their mouths and did not abide by their word.

I just hope that someone is around when this is over to write that history.


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