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Washington, Moscow Doubtful Tehran Can Avoid UN Sanctions

  • RFE/RL

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his Brazilian counterpart had a "tough mission," but he hoped it "ends in success."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his Brazilian counterpart had a "tough mission," but he hoped it "ends in success."

Russia has often backed Tehran in its standoff against the West over its nuclear program, so Dmitry Medvedev's latest pronouncement over possible new sanctions can’t be sitting well in Tehran.

Speaking at a Kremlin news conference on May 14, the Russian president said his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is unlikely to succeed in an 11th-hour attempt to mediate with Iran during a trip this weekend.

"Since my friend the Brazilian president is an optimist, I'll also be an optimist. I give it a 30 percent chance," Medvedev said.

Lula was in Moscow on May 14 ahead of his diplomatic mission to Iran. He will try to persuade Tehran to consider a deal to swap nuclear fuel with other countries, an arrangement Tehran said it had considered in the past.

Medvedev said Lula had a "tough mission," but he hoped it "ends in success. It's perhaps the last chance before the decisions in the [UN] Security Council."

Asked about his chances of success on a scale on one to 10, Lula relied "9.9."

Clinton: Iran Not 'Serious'

Washington also said its doubted Tehran could avoid a further round of UN sanctions. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on May 14 she didn’t believe Tehran would provide any "serious response" to concerns over its nuclear program until the United Nations passes a fourth round of sanctions.

She said Washington was striving to create a consensus over the sanctions.

"We are working closely with our U.K. and other partners on a new Security Council resolution affirming that there are serious consequences should Iran continue to flout its international obligations and fail to comply with both IAEA decisions and UN Security Council resolutions," Clinton said.

The United States suspects Iran is developing a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program. It's leading negotiations between the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany over a draft resolution against Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment.

Diplomats say negotiators may be ready to send the document to the Security Council as early as next week.

Tehran denies it's seeking to develop weapons, saying it's interested only in producing nuclear energy.

Moving Toward Sanctions?

Russia, which is building a nuclear power reactor in Iran and sells weapons to Tehran, has opposed sanctions in the past. Moscow has veto power over any Security Council sanctions, and has threatened to use it to thwart pressure from Washington in the past.

But in recent months, the Kremlin has moved steadily toward the White House over the issue, saying there are valid doubts over Iran's real intentions.

Brazil, which currently holds a rotating seat on the Security Council, opposes new sanctions. Lula has said he believes they would harm mostly poor Iranians.

Washington has accused Tehran of only trying to buy time by accepting the Brazilian offer of mediation.

with agency material