Mental floss for the discerning
20 August 2017 17:31 (South Africa)

Analysts say Washington tried to draw to an inside straight with Russia

The Obama administration was over-the-moon when they heard Russian President Medvedev say sanctions against Iran could become “inevitable”. Recork the champers. They saw Medvedev's words as a real shift in policy. Previously Russia and China had routinely rejected sanctions, but after Medvedev met Obama at the UN General Assembly, he said, “In some cases, sanctions are inevitable”. The White House said Medvedev’s comments were not a quid pro quo for cancelling an Eastern European missile defence shield, but advisors admitted it did change the climate. But then, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, “Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive”.  Oops.  Observers hope things will clarify when the US, France, Russia, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran meet on plans to send Iranian uranium to Russia for further processing. And, later this month, Iran plans to allow IAEA inspectors to examine the uranium enrichment facility under construction near Qom. Just perhaps, this new limited cooperation could be Medvedev’s impact. But former US envoy to Russia, James Collins, adds, the "administration probably overplayed their hand" and Iran’s nuke plans are part of a highly partisan domestic political debate to boot.

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