In the Arena

The Iran Sanctions Struggle

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President Obama is trying to get support from the Chinese for stiffer economic sanctions against Iran if, as seems likely, the Khamenei regime refuses to accept the nuclear fuel deal that it negotiated with the IAEA. This will not be easy. The Chinese are notoriously mercantilist in their foreign policy. They have business with Iran. But, it is interesting to note that the Russians, especially President Medvedev, continue to make promising noises about supporting the sanctions regime.

There is, I’m told, a surprising reason for this…

The Russians consider Iran an ally but they’ve been surprised and disappointed by two recent Iranian moves. The first was the discovery of the nuclear reactor (ADD: facility)at Qum, a secret site that may have been built for research into weaponization. The Russians were as surprised by this as everyone else was.

The second move, more recently, was Iran’s rejection of Russia as a destination for its nuclear fuel–and its preference for Turkey, because it was Islamic. “The Russians feel that their friends, the Iranians, have kicked them in the balls twice in the past few months,” I’m told by a diplomatic source. “They still have strong interests in Iran and may not go along with sanctions when push comes to shove, but we’re feeling confident that they will.”

Update: This may be a first. The Commentary blog has some interesting speculation about why the Russians may not be pleased with the Iranians–it has to do with a gas pipeline, from Iran to Turkey, that would liberate Turkmenistan’s massive gas trove from the pipeline control of Gazprom. It may be part of the reason why the Iranians want the Turks, not the Russians, as the recipient for its nuclear fuel. Not impossible.