[One hopes that we will not see a repeat of Iraq with some sort of coalition of the unwilling engaging in a bombing mission directed at Iran.  We and Israel have both missed opportunities to engage with the Iranians in recent years.  Now is not the time to back off.  Let it be stressed that al Qaeda was our creation in Pakistan to harass the Soviets.  The Iranians are Shias.  We have now put in power Shias in Iraq where the exchanges between Iraq and Iran have been extensive over the years — the Iraqi Sunnis are understandably distressed.  At best it now looks as though a proposed (by our Senate) sub-division of Iraq into 3 parts — Kurd, Sunni, Shia — will leave them as the odd ones out without access to oil and its supporting revenues.  Needless to say with this record of incompetence we do not need yet another blundering attack on the Iranians which might just unite the entire Muslim world — over a billion people — against us.  Our public media seem oblivious to such things as do many Americans who only receive information about the world therefrom.  We bloggers cannot do it all.  Ed Kent]



Last update – 10:16 28/09/2007

Russia says new sanctions on Iran must await IAEA probe
By Reuters

Russia’s foreign minister made clear ahead of high-level talks Friday on Iran’s nuclear program that Moscow wants to see a report from the UN nuclear agency on Tehran’s past suspicious nuclear work before considering new sanctions.

Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice exchanged sharp words at a luncheon Wednesday when Rice pushed for tough new sanctions to pressure Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, and Lavrov said Moscow wanted to give nuclear inspectors time to do their job, according to the Russian minister and U.S. and European officials present.

The Russian and U.S. ministers will have another chance to spar over nuclear policy toward Iran at a meeting Friday morning of the six key international players trying to negotiate with Iran. The Chinese, British, French and German foreign ministers were also expected to attend.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Thursday that Russia and China refuse to discuss possible new sanctions against Iran until the UN nuclear agency reports on Tehran’s disclosure of its past activities at the end of the year.

He said he did not think the council would be able to take up a new sanctions resolution until after December when the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report is due.

“I think that it would be very difficult to convince the Russians and the Chinese before,” Kouchner told international reporters at a breakfast meeting.

“We’ll do our best to convince them, but honestly, the position was difficult to tackle.”

Lavrov refused to comment on Kouchner’s assessment but told reporters Thursday night that the IAEA’s progress with Iran is obvious, and Moscow wants to see the IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program.

“Any Security Council measures must be proportionate and commensurate with what Iran is actually doing – and as long as Iran is doing something which satisfies part of the demands of the Security Council, I believe we have to caliber our action in the Security Council and elsewhere,” he said.

Lavrov’s comments to ITAR-TASS and RIA-Novosti earlier Thursday were stronger.

“Interference by means of any sanctions would undermine the International Atomic Energy Agency’s efforts,” Lavrov was quoted as saying. The UN Security Council measures on Iran should be balanced and respond to the steps taken by Tehran itself that obliged to answer all questions.

While Rice and her top aides want to capitalize on international frustration with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for declaring on Tuesday that the nuclear issue is closed and vowing to defy any Security Council move for more sanctions, Lavrov was adamant in his support for the International Atomic Energy Agency.

We want to get this information, professional assessment by the inspectors, Lavrov told reporters Thursday night.

Lavrov told The Associated Press that he had strong words with Rice about whether the time was right for new sanctions when the IAEA has struck an agreement with Iran about its past activities.

Lavrov said the United States wanted to ignore the IAEA – as it has in the past – but we want to rely on IAEA expertise.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and Iranian officials agreed in July that Tehran would answer questions from agency experts by December on more than two decades of nuclear activity – most of it secret until revealed more than four years ago.

IAEA technical officials returned to Tehran this week to start probing outstanding questions, some with possible weapons applications.

Earlier this month, ElBaradei urged nations critical of the pact to hold their horses until the end of the year – when the deadline for Iran to provide answers runs out.

Two U.N. resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran have failed to persuade the country to suspend uranium enrichment. Tehran insists the program is aimed at producing energy for civilian use, but the U.S., its European allies and many others fear the program’s real aim is to produce nuclear weapons.

Kouchner said sanctions are not working and tougher measures are needed to pressure Iran to suspend its enrichment program, amid growing international concerns that Tehran was working to produce a nuclear bomb.

The French minister said that when he used the word war recently, it was to prevent not to impose war over Iran’s nuclear program.

This is life and death, Kouchner said, explaining that if Iran gets nuclear weapons it will be the start of proliferation in the region, and that is absolutely dangerous, more than dangerous.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Zalmay Khalilzad, on Thursday used similar language, telling reporters that the agreement with the IAEA cannot be used as a shield to protect Iran from its violation, lack of cooperation, lack of implementation of the demands of the Security Council on the nuclear issue.

Khalilzad said that Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to a level usable for weapons is a threat to international security and stability. It is one of the most important, perhaps one of the defining issues of our time.

A united diplomatic front, he said, increases the chances that diplomacy will succeed. Those who will not cooperate on the diplomacy of this, with regard to pressure on Iran, sanctions on Iran, bear some responsibility should diplomacy, God forbid, fail.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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