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Iran Poses Diplomatic Dilemma For Russia

Iran-Turkey-and-Brazil-ce-009.jpgJulian Borger’s global security blog today looked at how the Turkey-Brazil fuel swap deal with Iran was squashed with little ado by Hillary Clinton and the P5, and new sanctions agreed upon with suprising alacrity on the part of China and Russia:

More striking still was the agreement from Russia and China to push for the package so soon after the news of the Turkish-Brazilian-Iranian deal. In the eyes of Turkey and Brazil and other middle-ranking, emerging powers, all this embodies the inequity of the international system, in which control is concentrated in the hands of a few states who emerged winners of a war 65 years ago. Turkey and Brazil are non-permanent Security Council members with no veto, forever bit players in the global drama, their emollient peacemaking gifts wasted.

From the point of view of the P5, the Turkish-Brazilian intervention was a bungling bid for influence, in which leaders of both countries were suckered by Iranian flattery into thinking the impasse over Iran’s nuclear ambitions was a mere misunderstanding which they could resolve with a little sympathetic mediation.

An article in the Financial Times looks at the two country’s improbable diplomatic balancing act between welcoming the fuel swap and sanctions simultaneously:

Facing a fast-changing dilemma this week over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, China and Russia appear to be trying to have it both ways – backing a new US-led round of sanctions on Iran but also supporting the fuel swap deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey.

[…]

Russia, which has defended Iran against US accusations that it was developing an atomic bomb, appeared resigned to the prospect of new sanctions.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, welcomed the fuel swap agreement, but said it would not prevent Iran enriching uranium. He called for “urgent consultations with all interested parties, including Iran, to decide what we should do next”.

Speaking in Washington after talks at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Sergei Ivanov, Russia’s first deputy prime minister, said he “would not be surprised” if the UN adopted a resolution on new sanctions against Iran soon. However, he warned that Russia was drawing a “red line”, insisting sanctions would not be “suffocating” or affect ordinary Iranians.

Russia has far more to lose from agreeing to sanctions than the US, which has no economic interest in Iran. “We have a completely different position. We have a trading relationship, and the potential to develop it. We have energy interests, human interests and tourism,” said Mr Ivanov.

Ultimately, months of US pressure appears to have produced results. “My guess is that China’s interests in not disturbing its relationship with the US are more important than the prospect of doing some kind of damage to its ties with Iran,” said Willem van Kemenade, a Beijing-based scholar at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

Read all here.