Russia Leery of Sanctions Against Iran

Daily News Article   —   Posted on August 30, 2006

(by Sergei Blagov, 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.

A council
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.

Earlier this
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.

Despite U.S.
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.

Earlier this
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.

Russian officials
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.

Tehran repeatedly
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.

Iranian natural
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.

Trade between
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.

Nonetheless, the
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
service reported.

Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at


Iran's 20
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.