“We have to admit that Iran continues to ignore the demands of the international community to address concerns about its nuclear program, as well as to suspend construction of the enrichment plant near the city of Qom,” says a statement posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Service.
At the same time Moscow called on all parties involved in the process of resolving the situation around Iran and its nuclear program, “to refrain from hasty and drastic steps that could undermine the creation of conditions for the resumption of dialogue of the “Six” and the continuation of cooperation between Tehran and the IAEA.”
In turn, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that “the recovery of uranium is the next step, bringing Iran closer to the possibility of producing highly enriched uranium suitable for the production of nuclear weapons.” According to Clinton, Iranian authorities lie, saying that the fuel is required to produce medical isotopes. “We urge Iran to immediately stop uranium enrichment and begin to follow its international obligations. We also urge Iran to resume negotiations in the 5 +1 format,” said Clinton.
Cause for these statements was the commencement of works on uranium enrichment up to 20% at the Iranian Fordu enterprise, confirmed by the IAEA.
Moreover, as notes Chief Researcher of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Retired Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, “Iran had enriched uranium up to 20% before, allegedly in the interests of the research reactor. It’s another matter that now it will be able to produce more enriched uranium.”
According to the expert, such degree of uranium enrichment is not enough to make a nuclear explosive device or a nuclear warhead. “Nevertheless, it certainly brings Iran closer to the possibility of enriching uranium up to 80-90% in the isotope 235, which is fair enough to make a nuclear explosive device or a nuclear warhead,” he said.
But this will take years. The question, however, is that the present events occur against the background of a very serious deterioration of US-Iranian relations.
An Iranian oil embargo is applied. In response - threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which up to 70 percent of the world oil market is transported. This is followed by two American aircraft carrier groups transfer to the Gulf region. Iran responds by the commencement of works on uranium enrichment.
All this is not warlike preparations, but a clear escalation of tension in which the parties seem to provoke each other with alarming gusto of a brazen player. Calling Iran to order, Moscow seems to try as far as possible to cool hot heads in Tehran. On the other hand - to bring the USA to reason.
As reported by the MFA of the Russian Federation, on January 10, in Moscow there was a meeting between Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Charge d’Affaires Sheila Gwaltney. “The situation around the Strait of Hormuz and the Iranian nuclear program have been considered,” said the statement by the Foreign Ministry of Russia. The meeting is working. It will not change the parties’ basic positions, but Moscow is extremely consistent in this matter.
For example, Vladimir Putin as back as 2006 at a meeting with members of the Valdai International Discussion Club said that Russia is against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear one. “In this regard, we believe and call on our Iranian partners to give up uranium enrichment,” he said. It is clear that the appearance of another nuclear power near Russia’s borders is not in Moscow’s interests.
At the same time, the Kremlin calls, which was once again reminded by the MFA on Tuesday, to move towards multilateral negotiations rather than sanctions and embargoes in order to relax the situation.
The USA, however, is willing to solve the problem by force. That is, by pressure and increasing economic measures.
According to the Washington Post (of January, 11), “The Obama administration considers economic sanctions against Iran as an incentive to public discontent, which will help to bring the Iranian government to abandon the expected nuclear weapons program, said the USA senior intelligence official. Besides a direct impact on the Iranian leaders, said the official, “there is one possibility that a discontent with the situation caused by the sanctions, will spill out into the streets, and this will make Iranian leaders realize that they must change their behavior.”
The implication, incidentally, is the aspiration to change by sanctions the regime in Tehran. How far it is possible – is a separate issue. In the meantime, policy of tough sanctions and embargo irritates even the U.S. allies.
Turkey does not intend to support toughening sanctions against it, which the United States and Western Europe plan to impose. “In order to increase pressure on Tehran, the United States called on Turkey, which, as a member of NATO, maintains close trade contacts with Iran, to join in sanctions. The Turkish side stated that it respects only those sanctions that were imposed by the United Nations, and will not follow the USA and the West in this issue.
Japan also has no plans to join the embargo on Iranian oil. In particular, Tokyo is concerned that the high cost of oil and its potential deficit will very negatively affect efforts to restore regions of the country devastated by last year’s earthquakes and tsunamis, said the representative of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It is doubtful whether South Korea, Italy, Spain and Greece will be delighted with the embargo, with their energy balance being based mainly on the Iranian oil. And of course China. “Beijing will oppose new sanctions against Iran, says the article of the Chinese Academy of Contemporary International Relations, which was published on Wednesday in the China Daily English-language newspaper.
“China believes that sanctions or military force threat have been always the last resort to resolve problems such as Iran’s nuclear program,” the experts from academia emphasize.
There is a prosaic reason. China would not support sanctions also wherefore “the Iranian oil commands a large part of Chinese oil imports, and it is not so easy to find alternative oil suppliers.”
In short, Moscow is not alone in rejection of military pressure on Iran.