Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has criticised talk of sanctions against Iran. Mr. Putin said: “If we speak about some kind of sanctions now, before we take concrete steps, we will fail to create favourable conditions for negotiations. That is why we consider such talk premature.” The UN has imposed three previous sanctions on Iran for pursuing its uranium enrichment program. The first sanction, 2006, focused on banning trade in materials, equipment, goods and technology that could contribute to the nuclear program. They were expanded in 2007 to include arms exports from Iran. In 2008 Iran was restricted from importing technologies that could be used for both civilian and military purposes. Russia has offered to help enrich uranium for Iran and have it returned in a form that could be used for medical research. Putin had better things to do, he was in Beijing for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Iran is an observer of the SCO. For the SCO, the importance of an Asian Energy Security Grid. In Beijing, Putin bluntly told the US not to intimidate Iran.
The White House had been hoping for a united, international push against Iran. But both Russia and China hold veto power on the United Nations Security Council, making the prospects for meaningful sanctions highly unlikely. Putin, a former KGB officer still control the levers of power in Russia. Putin has warned other world powers against threatening Iran during current negotiations over the Islamic country’s nuclear program. Putin stressed that what was needed was an “agreement”. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defined sanctions as “counterproductive”. Last month Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for sanctions and condemned Iran for constructing a secret uranium enrichment facility. Tehran has denied the facility is intended for weapons development and agreed to allow international inspectors to have access to the plant near Qum. Lavrov said that Russia wants to resolve all issues relating to Iran’s nuclear program, so that that country can make full use of its rights as a non-nuclear member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This means that they will not fall for the American December deadline threat on Iran. It was Putin who floated the idea of Iran enriching uranium in Russia in the first place. The United States and its allies Britain, France and Germany are contemplating tighter sanctions on Iran. Putin said what was needed was a compromise, and only if a compromise is not reached should other options be considered. Putin said, “There is no need to frighten the Iranians.” Since negotiations began, Iran has pledged to open its recently revealed uranium enrichment plant near Qom to UN inspectors.
Putin’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Beijing with Jiabao about Russian Gas. This falls under what is known across Asia as the Asian Energy Security Grid. A key element of the grid is what the Russians have called the Eastern Gas Program. The plan includes the expansion of joint projects in Siberia and even in other countries across the Asia-Pacific. Unlike oil, 4 million barrels a day, China still does not import a lot of natural gas. It will because China needs it, and Putin knows that. Those pipelines would be capable of supplying China with 68 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually, representing 85 per cent of the gas China currently consumes. That’s why it was more important to for Putin to be in Beijing, than to listen to Hillary yack about Obama’s plans. Washington has a poor standing in the world. Blame George Bush if you want, but this stems from years of A Russia/US Cold War. Obama promised to end the era of “antagonism” between the United States and Russia. Obama’s “apology tour” was an open for Russia. Obama has stated that Putin was stuck “with one foot in the past.” Now, Obama sends Clinton to Russia to talk about sanctions against Tehran. Russia and China declined Obama, delivering another blow to the Obama Administration.
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