James Forsyth

Russia pockets Obama’s concession and moves on

Russia pockets Obama’s concession and moves on
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The strategic logic behind President Obama’s decision to alter US plans for a missile defence shield based in Eastern Europe was that this would persuade the Russians, who didn’t like the shield, to agree to the US’s push for tougher sanctions on Iran. But it appears that Moscow isn’t going to play ball.  

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared after a meeting with Hillary Clinton yesterday that, “Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive.” So, all that Obama’s concession has done is anger the Czechs and the Poles who weren’t told about the move until the last minute.

Iran is an issue that hasn’t gone away. If the regime is to be persuaded to abandon its nuclear ambitions by peaceful means, then sanctions with real bite are going to have to be imposed soonest. So far, there is no sign of that happening.

Iran going nuclear would be the biggest strategic setback that the US has faced in the post Cold-War world. It would result in a situation where an unstable regime with a fundamentalist ideology in the most strategically important part of the world is nuclear armed. The chances for something to go wrong would be hideously high.