From the AP (via StarTribune.com) we find out Russia opposes any more sanctions on Iran.
Russia made clear Saturday that it opposes slapping more sanctions on Iran in the standoff over its nuclear program, arguing that their effects would go beyond the international community’s agreed aims.
Actually, it sounds like Russia is trying to unilaterally determine what the “international community’s agreed aims” actually are.
So can we play a mulligan on the reset?
Iran has been hit with several rounds of U.N. sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Tehran again rebuffed U.N.-drafted proposals at talks in Istanbul in January, generating speculation about more economic pressures.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "any new proposals … would basically be aimed at suffocating the Iranian economy."
Well, no kidding, Sergey. If Iran continued to be non-compliant, ratcheting up the sanctions was the general idea. Graduated pressure and all that. And if more sanctions didn’t work, I think we were supposed to introduce jam-proof broad band internet, Twitter, and Facebook.
He said that "was not part of the agreement" when the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany started trying to allay doubts over Iran’s nuclear intentions with a combination of incentives and pressure.
Lavrov argued that the Istanbul meeting was "not a total failure." And Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov also insisted that there is "very limited and fragile progress," while emphasizing that Russia was against a nuclear-armed Iran.
"There is no alternative to further talks," Ivanov said at a security conference in Munich. "We believe that neither stronger sanctions nor the threat of or, more than that, the use of force can be considered as an effective tool."
Ivanov’s assessment is supportive of the Iranian pattern of deceive and delay. All other things being equal, time is on Iran’s side.
Ellen Tauscher, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control, said that "the door remains open to negotiations." But she added "the United States will not settle for empty diplomacy and talks meant to delay and avoid responsibilities."
So does the Russian position fall into the “delay and avoid” category, and if so, what will be done?