Obama’s diplomacy starts to pay off


by Sunny
24th September, 2009 at 6:02 am    

BBC News reports:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signalled that Moscow might be prepared to soften its opposition to sanctions against Iran over its nuclear plans.

Mr Medvedev, speaking after talks with US President Barack Obama, said that in some cases sanctions were “inevitable”. Earlier, a Russian official said Moscow could support fresh sanctions if there was enough evidence from UN inspectors. Iran’s president did not refer directly to the nuclear stand-off in his address to the UN General Assembly in New York.

Much rather have sanctions against Iran than war. So the softening of the Russian stance is a welcome development. Though I get the feeling that hawks on all side won’t be very happy with this – preferring instead a hardline confrontation.


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  1. Ben — on 24th September, 2009 at 6:49 am  

    “…Moscow could support fresh sanctions if there was enough evidence from UN inspectors…”

    UN inspectors under Hans Blix failed to find any evidence of Iraq’s military nuclear programme before the first gulf war, even though it later transpired that the Iraqis were just a few months from having a bomb. UN inspections can only uncover programmes that the inspected country wants them to see. This is not because the inspectors are incompetent or indolent or corrupt, but because the terms of the NPT were drawn up assuming that signatory countries would always act in good faith. The NPT is ineffective when a signatory country acts in bad faith.

    Medvedev knows that the inspectors will not come up with proof of serious violations of the NPT by Iran. Therefore he can safely support sanctions that are contingent on events that he’s certain will not happen.

    Your enthusiasm for Russia’s change of policy is sadly misplaced.

  2. Reza — on 24th September, 2009 at 9:21 am  

    “Much rather have sanctions against Iran than war. ”

    Of course you would.

    In any case, a war against Iran wouldn’t work. It would only succeed in strengthening further the Islamic regime.

    Other (scary) factors to consider are the religious views of Ahmadinejad himself.

    Ahmadinejad is a Mahdiist: he believes that the ‘hidden’ twelfth Imam (a messianic-type figure in Shia Islam) will return to fight one final, apocalyptic battle and prevail over the forces of evil leaving the world one big, Islamic paradise.

    I suspect that he would welcome a war.

  3. resistor — on 24th September, 2009 at 12:04 pm  

    Ben writes,

    ‘UN inspectors under Hans Blix failed to find any evidence of Iraq’s military nuclear programme before the first gulf war, even though it later transpired that the Iraqis were just a few months from having a bomb.’

    There were no UN inspectors in Iraq before the first Gulf War and Hans Blix only became the head of the inspectors in 2000. IAEA inspectors have the freedom to go anywhere in Iran, and at any time, to find evidence of a nuclear weapons programme – and have found none. But it’s obvious that facts aren’t too important for you.

  4. douglas clark — on 24th September, 2009 at 4:07 pm  

    Ben,

    What resistor has to say is my recollection too. Please provide a few links to this astonishing new information! Though he probably also means Iraq as well as Iran in his final paragraph.

  5. douglas clark — on 24th September, 2009 at 4:19 pm  

    Ben,

    Here’s what the secret state is willing to tell us about satellite technology and nuclear weapon production:

    http://tinyurl.com/y9h96g6

    And that is what they tell us….

  6. MaidMarian — on 24th September, 2009 at 6:36 pm  

    Medvedev and his boss always seem to work on the rather touching assumption that Mother Russia is somehow immune from anti- feeling from the Muslim world. Quite why they don’t get Chechnya rammed down their thorat by the talkboarders in the way that Iraq gets pulled out is interesting.

    I am actually far, far more worried by North Korea than Iran, but the lack of muslims there seems to mean that no one is interested.

  7. fugstar — on 24th September, 2009 at 9:35 pm  

    gutted iran.

  8. Adnan — on 24th September, 2009 at 9:46 pm  

    “Medvedev and his boss always seem to work on the rather touching assumption that Mother Russia is somehow immune from anti- feeling from the Muslim world.”

    That’s somewhat unlikely. They’re really rather brutal when the need arises.

    Russia and China seem work on the assumption whatever is troublesome for the West is not such a bad thing. After all they seem to use veto or soften initiatives against places like North Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe, Sudan.

  9. MaidMarian — on 24th September, 2009 at 10:03 pm  

    Adnan – Yes, I don’t know how it became common currency on the talkboards that the sun shines from Vladimir Putin’s colon, but here we are.

    Certainly if ‘the West’ did in Afrcia what China is doing, the denunciations of neo-colonialism would follow as surely as night follows day.

  10. Ben — on 25th September, 2009 at 5:06 am  

    “…But it’s obvious that facts aren’t too important for you….”

    “…astonishing new information…”

    Iraq was a signatory of the NPT. As such, its nuclear facilities were regularly inspected by the IAEA, a UN organization, up to the first gulf war. Hans Blix was the head of the IAEA at the time of that war.

    In 2000, Blix became the new head of UNSCOM (also a UN organization) specifically set up years earlier to disarm Iraq of WMDs.

    Both IAEA and UNSCOM were unable to uncover military nuclear work in Iraq, until the fortuitous cooperation of Saddam’s son-in-law in 1995.

    All the above is part of the public record.

  11. douglas clark — on 25th September, 2009 at 2:21 pm  

    Ben,

    My comment was based on this:

    …even though it later transpired that the Iraqis were just a few months from having a bomb…

    I’m puzzled at what sources you have for that. Because after the destruction of the Osirak reactor, it didn’t appear to have the capability any more.

  12. Ben — on 26th September, 2009 at 5:21 am  

    “…I’m puzzled at what sources you have for that…”

    This is from a report by David Albright and others, writing for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

    “Iraq stated that it formally decided to build nuclear weapons in 1988, although many necessary and related activities had taken place earlier. Under the 1988 plan, Iraq intended to have its first weapon by the summer of 1991.”

    See http://www.isis-online.org/publications/iraq/iraqs_fm_history.html for details of how this was to be achieved.

    A minor correction to my previous post. Blix was appointed to head UNMOVIC in 2000, which superceded UNSCOM.

  13. falcao — on 26th September, 2009 at 6:07 pm  

    Russia will soften its stance because obviously America has said it will dismantle the missle defence shield on russia’s doorstep. As for hardline stance or prospect of war with iran highly unlikely the americans are bogged down in Afghanistan facing a possible humiliating withdrawal and defeat and situation in iraq can kick off anytime!

  14. Teddy Bear — on 5th October, 2009 at 11:52 pm  

    resistor — on 24th September, 2009 at 12:04 pm
    Writes in response to Ben’s post:
    There were no UN inspectors in Iraq before the first Gulf War and Hans Blix only became the head of the inspectors in 2000. IAEA inspectors have the freedom to go anywhere in Iran, and at any time, to find evidence of a nuclear weapons programme – and have found none. But it’s obvious that facts aren’t too important for you.

    Before you throw out insults you should really check your own facts – you know glass houses and stones etc.
    Hans Blix was director general of the IAEA from 1981 to 1997 and was responsible for giving Saddam a clean bill of (nuclear)health. Israel showed that this was not the case when they bombed the reactor, and it was also verified during the Gulf War of 1991 that Saddam was close to developing nuclear weapons.

    I’d say you owe Ben an apology, but idiots like yourself seldom do – just vanish back into the holes they crawled out of. Take a lesson from Douglas, at least he was civil, and gets respect for that.

  15. Herbert — on 6th October, 2009 at 7:56 am  

    Here’s one idea worthy of consideration:

    Actual possession of nuclear weapons automatically confers cautious good sense.

    Nuclear weapons have been used just twice; Truman had a third ready to deploy – destined for Tokyo – but steadfastly declined to use it.

    Since the days of U.S. hegemony*, the USSR, then Britain, then France, then China, then Israel and then a few others since Israel have, over the years, re-invented the bomb but even the Indians and Pakistanis have refrained from using it on one another, although some versions of events claim that it was a close call during at least one Indo-Pak crisis and, earlier, a very, very close call during the Cuban missile crisis.

    If and when Iran has the bomb, good sense will descend on the Iranians.

    Right?

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