Sunday, October 29, 2006

Russia Strays From The Iran Sanctions Regime (Again)

Russia is angry with the United States for cracking down on two of their companies, and is creating problems with U.S. efforts towards an aggressive sanctions regime against Iran.

With no breakthrough in sight, France, Britain and Germany presented the United States, Russia and China this week with a draft resolution that would ban trade related to Iran's nuclear and ballistic-missile programs but would allow Russia to continue to support the construction of an Iranian nuclear facility at Bushehr.

French President Jacques Chirac told reporters during a visit to the city of Wuhan, China, that "appropriate, adapted, temporary and reversible sanctions will probably have to be found and imposed to show Iran that the whole of the international community does not understand its position," according to Reuters.

The Bush administration declined to endorse the European draft because of concerns that it is too weak to constrain Iran from pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has suggested that the European draft is too tough and does not conform with the six nations' aim of eliminating "the risks of sensitive technology falling into Iran's hands" while maintaining "vital channels of communication with Iran."

Russia is furious that the United States in July sanctioned two Russian military contractors -- the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport and aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi -- under the 2000 Iran Nonproliferation Act.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, has hinted that the U.S. failure to lift those sanctions could complicate the Iran negotiations. "If we work collectively, we need to work collectively," Churkin said recently. "If they want to go it on their own, you know legislating unilateral sanctions, they are welcome to tackle the problem alone."

On a related issue, people are getting jumpy about the timing of two U.S. carrier groups located in the vicinity of Iran. "October Surprise" skullduggery is being rumored.

I have been told that this is routine rotation of naval forces, that carrier groups operate on six month cycles, and that the Enterprise, et al (having been relieved by the Eisenhower), will be heading back to the U.S. for maintenance.


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