Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Russia won't block U.S. on Iran

Washington Post - The Bush administration, working intensely to galvanize international pressure on Iran, has secured a guarantee from Russia that it will not block U.S. efforts to take Tehran's nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council, American and European officials said yesterday.

The commitment, made in a Tuesday night phone call between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, will likely help the United States and its European allies win support from key countries weighing a tougher line in response to Iran's resumption of sensitive nuclear work.

According to three senior diplomats who were briefed on the call, Lavrov told Rice that Russia would abstain, rather than vote against U.S. efforts to move the issue from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the Security Council. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed to reporters that Rice had spoken with Lavrov and other foreign ministers but did not divulge details.

Russia's pledge was good only for when a vote takes place inside the IAEA. U.S. officials said they remain uncertain as to how Moscow, a traditional ally of Iran's, would react if the issue gets to the Security Council, where Moscow is one of five countries with veto power.

Still, Bush administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity saw the Russian decision as a victory and said they would spend the next several weeks lobbying China for a similar commitment.

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Also: Kash Kheirkhah - US winning card: Russia's compromise proposal