Could the Obama Administration Perhaps Be Exaggerating Russian Enthusiasm for Expanded Sanctions on Iran?

In recent weeks, the Obama Administration has been enthusiastically spinning its progress in winning Russian support for prospective new sanctions on Iran.  We have cautioned that, while Russia may, in the end, support a new UNSC sanctions resolution, it will not support broad-based sanctions against major sectors of Iran’s economy or measures that would get in the way of Russian economic and security interests.  At the annual meeting of the Munich Security Conference last week, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sergei Ivanov — a close ally of Vladimir Putin — clearly confirmed this view.  Specifically, Ivanov said,

If in the future, hypothetically, if new sanctions are imposed, we are sure that sanctions should be limited to nonproliferation only and not be expanded to cultural, humanitarian, economic parts of Iranian activity.

It is hard to avoid concluding that the Obama Administration is deliberately overstating its alleged “progress” in persuading Moscow to support tougher sanctions against Iran.

Flynt Leverett directs the Iran Project at the New America Foundation, where he is also a Senior Research Fellow.  Additionally, he teaches at Pennsylvania State University’s School of International Affairs.  Hillary Mann Leverett is CEO of Strategic Energy and Global Analysis (STRATEGA), a political risk consultancy.  In September 2010, she will also take up an appointment as Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.  This article was first published in The Race for Iran on 7 February 2010 under a Creative Commons license.

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