Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held lengthy talks with [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov]Tuesday as part of an intense American effort to improve relations, but she made few gains on a top U.S. priority — increasing pressure on Iran.
Emerging from four hours of talks with Clinton, Lavrov told reporters that “threats, sanctions and threats of pressure” against Iran would be “counterproductive.”
We wish we were surprised by this news. Unfortunately it fits into a very well established pattern in U.S. policy on Iran:
- We discover an undisclosed Iranian nuclear site
- Russian and Chinese issue “statements” of concern that American pundits and administration officials take seriously as indication of their future support for tougher sanctions
- Then US offers direct talks and make some proposals which deflate pressure on Iran
- Iranians promise IAEA access to secondary site and promise to continue talking about US proposals
- Press signals “progress” and “possible breakthrough”
- Russians use this “progress” to revert to previous opposition against tougher sanctions, with a US official excusing them by saying they are trying to “exhaust” all possibilities before sanctions are applied
- Meanwhile, the Iranians continue to move forward with their programs
Washington must take stronger actions now to prevent a future disaster from unfolding. Otherwise we will be dealing not just with a nuclear Iran, but with a potential cascade of nuclear powers in the Middle East.