Iran nuclear sanctions: Ahmadinejad says they won't bite
The US, at the urging of partners, has weakened proposed Iran nuclear sanctions at the urging of allies. A defiant President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said no country could stop 'the fast speeding train of Iranian progress.'
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Early reaction from Tehran is that Mr. Obama’s comments “were nothing but a deception,” the head of Iran’s Foreign Policy and National Security Committee in parliament, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said on Wednesday. Though the US had sent several messages calling for talks, he said, they “at the same time passed more than 60 anti-Iranian bills in their Congress.”Skip to next paragraph
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Britain and Germany convinced US officials to soften the language and remove the most stringent sanctions measures, in a bid to convince Russia and especially China – which has far-reaching economic and energy ties to Iran – to join a new sanctions resolution. The three previous rounds of UN Security Council sanctions placed on Iran have all been unanimous.
Russia working with China?
Russia announced on Wednesday that it had been working along with China to persuade Iran to accept the fuel deal put forward last autumn, in which Iran would export a sizable quantity of low-enriched uranium. That would leave too little in Iran to fashion a nuclear device, if enriched to much higher levels, and that material would be turned into fuel in Russia and France and returned to Iran for a small Tehran research reactor for medical isotopes.
After months of delay, Iran put forward a modified proposal, insisting on a swap on Iranian soil, and export of smaller portions of nuclear material. US officials have so far dismissed that offer.
Russia has increased its own pressure on Iran over a number of issues, and on Thursday said Moscow could support more sanctions.
“If there is no visible progress in this direction, then we do not exclude the possibility of putting additional pressure on the Iranians with the help of sanctions,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko. “But … such sanctions must be directed exclusively on the resolution of nonproliferation tasks and not aimed at … financial and economic suffocation.”
“Part of the US system wants really tough US sanctions, crippling sanctions, sanctions that bite – whatever the words are that Hillary Clinton is currently using – even if purely for bargaining purposes,” says Sick.
Signs of diplomatic progress
The fact that Russia and China are independently telling Iran to “reexamine this swap [deal], because we’re under enormous pressure to impose sanctions that we don’t like, but we can’t ignore the Americans,” is a sign of diplomatic progress, even if unintended by Washington, says Sick. “So the threat of more severe sanctions is actually more effective than what the sanctions package is going to look like – if you get to that point.”
On Thursday, Beijing, Iran’s top trading partner, reiterated its position: “China urges all sides to use diplomatic means to peacefully resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiation,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.
The five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany agreed to meet early next week to discuss sanctions against Iran. The British ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant said China had “agreed to engage substantively.”