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Sep. 28, 2007
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Russia Goes Out of Its Way to Shield Iran Again
// Russias foreign minister slams the U.S. at luncheon with the G8
UN Security Council permanent members and Germany are to discuss in New York on Friday a third sanctions resolution against Iran over its refusal to curtail its nuclear program. Chances are, however, not very high that U.S., British, French, German, Chinese and Russian foreign ministers will come to any kind of agreement. A recent squabble between U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has confirmed these fears. The Russian foreign policy chief made it clear that Moscow would not support new punitive measures against Iran which has declared willingness to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
This weeks intensive bilateral and multilateral consultations in New York are going to be continued by a meeting of diplomatic ministries from the six countries involved in the Iran nuclear crisis settlement the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China. Talks are still going to focus on what to do with Iran which wont curtail uranium enrichment. The UN Security Council has already passed two resolutions with international sanctions on Iran for its nuclear intransigence.

Foreign polical directors of the six nations on Wednesday discussed a new draft that proposes stronger sanctions against Teheran. U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, who was representing the United States in the meeting, had to admit that negotiations are going on with a lot of difficulties, which means the new draft is not likely to be drawn up this week. The political directors already met last week but did not come to any agreement. Nicholas Burns mentioned too obvious tactical differences but he still expressed hope that a satisfactory decision could still be found in the end.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov exchanged some harsh remarks at a working luncheon of G8 foreign ministers on Wednesday, which is the best illustration of what Nicholas Burns called too obvious tactical differences. Sergey and Condi had a very tough talk, a European diplomat, who attended the luncheon, told Kommersant. British Deputy Foreign Minister Mark Brown also admitted that the tone of the discussion was quite blunt. Asked if any progress has been made to work out the common stance on Iran French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner replied with a laugh: I wouldnt say so.

Witnesses of the discussion say that the essence of Russian-American difficulties, which surfaced in Mr. Lavrov and Ms. Rices wrangle, come down to the following. Firstly, Moscow opposes a new package of UN Security sanctions on Teheran to supplement the existing ones, an idea that the United States and France are pushing forward. Russia considers the measures unjustified and counterproductive, and adds that Iran is willing to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA to lift fears over its nuclear program. We would like to be guided by the IAEAs conclusions, Sergey Lavrov said after meeting his counterparts from the G8. Secondly, Moscow does not like the United States to push through any other sanctions apart from the punitive measures discussed in the Security Council. The United States and the European Union have already introduced this kind of sanctions. Attendees of the G8 ministers meeting confirmed that the Russian minister lambasted this initiative. Moscow believes that this sort of unilateral actions undermines the search for the Iran issue solution and stalemates the talks.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad summarized his position on nuclear energy at the 62nd UN General Assembly session just one day before the six nations and G8s consultations. His speech correlated with harsh words that the Russian minister used in the discussion with his Western partners. Mr. Ahmadinejad called the Iranian issue a technical rather than a political one. He pressed for the problem to be tackled by the IAEA instead of the UN Security Council. Today, because of the resistance of the Iranian nation, the issue is back to the IAEA, the Iranian leader said. I officially announce that in our opinion the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, failed to close the Iranian nuclear issue for good. Im sorry to tell President Ahmadinejad that the case is not closed yet, Nicholas Burns commented. We are intent to continue to deal with it.

The hard-line stance of the United States, which seeks a quick adoption of another Security Council resolution, and Moscows vehement resistance to the proposed moves obviously indicate that the Iran issue has again become a major stumbling block in Russia-West relations.

Sergey Strokan

All the Article in Russian as of Sep. 28, 2007

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