Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Russians To Hillary - 'Nyet' On Iran Sanctions

Last week, Secretary of State Clinton was bloviating about how nicely things were working with the Russians on Iran sanctions now that the Obama Administration has pressed that reset button and ditched all that nasty Cold War fallout.

Ummm no, sorry.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told her in no uncertain terms that Russia was definitely not signing on to any sanctions against Iran at this point, and that they in no way backed any threats about UN sanctions for Iran's non-cooperation on its nuclear weapons program:

"At the current stage, all forces should be thrown at supporting the negotiating process," he told reporters at a joint news conference with Clinton. "Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive."

...Clinton, who met later with Medvedev, said she had not asked for Moscow's specific support for actually imposing sanctions. But U.S. officials said they were disappointed that Lavrov had come out against even the threat of new penalties.

One senior official traveling with Clinton said the U.S. continued to believe it is critical to get tangible signs of support from Moscow for at least considering new sanctions because the more united they are, the more likely pressure on Iran is to work. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration thinking.

I'm certain the Iranians are killing themselves laughing as they get their latest nuclear site tidied up for the IAEA 'inspection' .

Apparently throwing Poland and the Czech Republic under the bus wasn't adequate. But in all fairness, Russia's President Medvedev had been honest about that at the time.

The Russians, you see, have their own national interests and they're not going to throw them overboard just because of a silly reset button or some nifty rhetoric from a Nobel Prize Winner like President Obama.

For Russia, an aggressive Iran is a threat to US interests in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, something Russia can use for leverage in counterbalancing the US. That's especially true when you have a group of weak, inexperienced amateurs sitting in the White House.

Aside from tying down the US, Russia sees Iran as a major threat to Israel, Saudi Arabia and The Gulf States. This suits Russia's interests because it strengthens Russia's position in the region and because tensions of this sort drive up oil prices -which suits Russia just fine.

And of course, there's the huge financial benefit the Russians receive from supplying Iran with weapons, technology and nuclear know-how.

On the other hand, the Russians apparently aren't worried about an Iranian threat to themselves.

They apparently feel that they can forestall any nuclear threat from Iran, and I would guess that part of that stems from knowing exactly where everything nuclear is in Iran, how to get to it and destroy it if need be, and from a willingness to be ruthless enough to do so regardless of any fallout or civilian casualties.

I also have it on reasonably good authority from one of my notorious Little Birdies that Russia made a deal with Iran after Beslan,Nalchik, and several other incidents to regulate Iran's border with Russia to end the stream of fighters, money and arms to the Chechens and al-Qaeda in exchange for help with Iran's nuclear an dconventional weapons programs, a deal Iran seems to have kept reasonably well based on the marked decrease in incidents.

In other words, the Russians are embodying that age old principle that nations don't have friends, they have interests.

Unfortunately, that's a lesson that's apparently lost on the current administration. One can only it's a lesson they learn very quickly. The time grows short.

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