News / Middle East

Analysts: Russia, China Ready to Block New UN Sanctions on Iran

United Nations Security Council (file photo)
United Nations Security Council (file photo)

This week, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency released its toughest report yet on Iran’s nuclear program, saying it appearsTehran has worked on designing an atom bomb. While Russia and China seem to agree there are legitimate concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the two powers appear ready to block any new move to impose additional sanctions in the U.N. Security Council.

The U.N.’s most powerful organ, the 15-member Security Council, has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran from 2006 to 2010. The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency has raised the prospect that Iran’s nuclear file could come back to the Security Council for a possible fifth round of economic, financial or military sanctions.

But Moscow and Beijing have already tried to head off any move in that direction. The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the IAEA report as having no new information and warned that it is being used to undermine efforts to reach a political and diplomatic resolution to the issue. While Beijing has repeated its call for dialogue and said sanctions would not resolve the matter.

Analysts say the two powers do not necessarily want to see Iran become a nuclear weapons state, but preventing it is not their top priority.

Matthew Kroenig is the Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. He says Russia and China are less threatened by the thought of a nuclear armed Iran than the United States for several reasons.

“When the United States is thinking of all the things that could go wrong if Iran got nuclear weapons, it is thinking about how it is going to affect its Gulf partners -- whether it is going to have to extend security guarantees to countries like Saudi Arabia; what it means for Israel’s security - a close partner; what it means for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Kroenig said.

But he says Russia and China have a much shorter list of concerns, so they are less willing to take tough measures to halt Iran’s nuclear progress. They also have close economic and trade ties with the Islamic Republic, which is the world’s fourth largest oil producer, and would be wary of jeopardizing those interests.

American University International Politics professor David Bosco says the U.N. Security Council is running out of sanctions options and only the toughest remain - including targeting Iran’s Central Bank or its oil and gas exports.

“We are at the stage where the natural next steps would really be quite coercive steps that could be aimed at crippling Iran’s entire economy and I don’t think Russia and China would go along with that,” Bosco said.

Russia and China did not use their veto power on the previous four rounds of sanctions, but they also used their influence to make sure the sanctions were not as strong as Western powers wanted them to be.

In an effort to avert new measures, Russia is promoting a plan where Iran would cooperate on inspections to alleviate questions about the nature of its nuclear program in return for a gradual lifting of existing sanctions.

Iran insists its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful and has dismissed the IAEA report as a “fabrication”, calling the agency a “tool” for U.S. political objectives. Iran has also said recently it is willing to return to the negotiating table to settle the matter.

But after several bad experiences with Tehran, is there enough trust in the international community to engage the Iranians in dialogue? Ilan Berman of the conservative Washington research organization, the American Foreign Policy Council, says the time for talk has passed, especially after the latest IAEA report.

“There is a sense that Iran is attempting through all these different measures -- working through China and Russia and also by offering negotiations only to complicate them later down the road -- is trying to run out the clock on its nuclear effort. I think the time for returning to negotiating table with the Iranians has passed. The question is now that we know that the clock is ticking, what are we willing to do to really put the screws to the Iranians?,” Berman said.

The analysts agree that there are unilateral measures the United States and its European partners could take to try to slow Iran’s proliferation progress - such as an economic embargo or sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas exports -- but they say strong, unified action is unlikely soon at the United Nations.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More