(by Sergei Blagov, CNSNews.com) Moscow – Wary of penalties against Iran because it has so much at stake,
Russia is continuing to urge diplomatic efforts rather than sanctions
as the U.N. Security Council’s August 31 deadline approaches.
resolution gives Tehran until Thursday to stop uranium enrichment or
face the possibility of sanctions. As a veto-wielding permanent member,
Russia’s support for any punitive steps is essential, and Moscow on
principle opposes sanctions as an instrument of international politics.
month, Russia’s foreign ministry said Iran must respect the deadline,
reminding the country that as a U.N. member it was obliged to implement
Security Council resolutions.
With Iran giving
no sign that it plans to comply, top Russian officials are again
expressing skepticism about the efficacy of sanctions.
“I know of no
instances in world practice and previous experience in which sanctions
have achieved their aim and proved effective,” Defense Minister Sergei
Ivanov told reporters during a recent trip to Russia’s Far East.
“I believe that
the question is not so serious at the moment for the U.N. Security
Council or the group of six to consider any introduction of sanctions,”
he said, in reference to the council’s five permanent members plus
“Russia advocates further political and diplomatic efforts to settle the issue,” Ivanov added.
Russia has strong commercial ties with Iran, and is a major weapons supplier.
objections, Russia is building Iran’s first nuclear power plant in the
southern port of Bushehr. In a bid to allay international concerns,
Russia and Iran in Feb. 2005 signed an agreement requiring Iran to
return to Russian all spent nuclear fuel from the Bushehr reactor.
month, the Russian state-run company Atomstroiexport said construction
was on schedule and that the first reactor at Bushehr was 95 percent
Bushehr is now expected to go online in 2007, a year later than originally scheduled.
say Moscow is interested in building more units at Bushehr, and the
Iranians have suggested that Russia help to build a total of 20 nuclear
power stations in Iran.
Russia has been
trying to mediate in the dispute between Iran and the West, and
suggested a plan to meet Iran’s uranium needs by carrying out
enrichment on Russian soil.
claimed interest in the Russian proposal, but no progress has been
achieved so far due to Tehran’s refusal to suspend domestic enrichment
in line with U.N. demands.
For years, the Kremlin has resisted U.S. pressure and declined to limit ties with Iran – particularly lucrative weapons sales.
Russia has commercial interests in Iran beyond the nuclear energy and military sectors.
gas fields, South Pars phases 2 and 3, were developed by Russian gas
giant Gazprom in conjunction by French Total and Malaysia’s Petronas.
They are already operational and expected eventually to produce two
billion cubic feet per day.
The South Pars
gas field is estimated to contain around 812 trillion cubic feet of
gas, equal to seven percent of the world’s proven reserves and roughly
50 percent of Iran’s.
Russia has also
been cooperating with Iran and Tajikistan in joint construction of a
hydropower station in Tajikistan; and Russia, India and Iran are
developing a north-south transport corridor aimed at linking Russia to
the Persian Gulf via Azerbaijan and Iran.
Russia and Iran has risen from $660 million in 2000 to $2 billion in
2005, including $1.9 billion in Russian exports to Iran. However,
earlier this year bilateral commerce was down — first quarter figures
dropped from $437 million last year to $224 million in 2006 — due to
tensions around Tehran’s nuclear programs.
“This is a result
of a number of factors, but mainly because of the international
situation surrounding Iran,” Russia’s Economic Development and Trade
Ministry said last Friday.
ministry called for continuing development of cooperation with Iran, “a
major trading partner for Russia in the Middle East.”
Despite the nuclear dispute, Russia and Iran maintain top-level contacts.
On August 11,
Presidents Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke by phone to
discuss “the current situation in the Middle East,” the Kremlin press
Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
1. Define sanctions (para. 1), punitive (2), efficacy (4)
2. Russia is one of the 5 permanent members on the U.N. Security Council. Name the other four. (Go to the U.N. website for a list of members.)
3. What does the U.N. Security Council resolution require Iran to do by August 31st?
4. Why should Iran comply with the Council, according to Russia?
5. For what reason does Russia say that sanctions should not be imposed on Iran? What alternative solutions do they suggest?
6. Describe the relationship Russia has with Iran. (para. 8-9, 12, 15-17, 19-20, 23)
7. a) What is the purpose of the U.N. Security Council?
Regarding Iran, should Russia place its own interests above its
responsibilities as a permanent Security Council member? Explain your
year secret nuclear program was discovered in 2002. Iran continues to
insist that its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been
working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs.
Under the United Nation’s NPT (Non
Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons
(except those that had weapons when the treaty was signed). The
U.S. succeeded in getting the UN’s IAEA (International
Atomic Energy Agency) to refer Iran to the UN Security Council with the
hope that if Iran does not stop their work, the Security Council will
impose sanctions on Iran and cause them to comply with the NPT.
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