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April 22, 2006
Russians Insist On Sale Of Missile System To Iran

Russia will not back away from its planned sale of air-defense missile systems to Iran, the Washington Post reports this morning, as Vladimir Putin continues his march against the West and his determination to restart the Cold War. In response, the US hinted that Russian intransigence on Iran will push the issue away from the United Nations and into a new multilateral coalition that will impose its own response to the Iranian nuclear program:

At a news conference in Washington yesterday, the State Department's third-highest-ranking officer, R. Nicholas Burns, said the time has come for countries "to use their leverage with Iran" and halt exports of weapons and nuclear-related technologies. He singled out the sale of 29 Tor-M1 air-defense missile systems to Iran under a $700 million contract announced by Russia in December.

"We hope and we trust that that deal will not go forward, because this is not time for business as usual with the Iranian government," said Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs. ...

"There are no circumstances that would obstruct fulfillment of our obligations in military-technical cooperation with Iran," said Nikolai Spassky, the deputy head of the Kremlin's Security Council. "This goes for all the obligations we have made, including the commitment to provide Iran with Tor-M1 air defense systems." ...

But given the potential for continued stalemate, Burns raised the possibility that some nations might act against Iran without waiting for a Security Council agreement.

"It's not beyond the realm of the possible that at some point in the future, a group of countries could get together, if the Security Council is not able to act, to take collective economic action or collective action on sanctions," he said. "That's important, because those that might prevent the Security Council from acting effectively need to understand that the international community has to find a way, and will find a way, to express our displeasure with the Iranians."

The Russians appear intent on eclipsing France's efforts to position themselves as the countervaling force against the United States, in this case militarily as well as diplomatically. To that end, they have continually enabled the mullahcracy of Iran to develop their nuclear ambitions as well as supporting the Islamofascist protostate of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. This follows on the revelations of their intelligence support for Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. They have taken the side of terrorists and terrorist enablers, and the time has come for even the State Department to recognize that Russia is not our ally.

What can be done? The first action we must take is to follow through on Burns' threat and bypass the UN on Iran. If Russia (and China) do not wish to be part of the solution, we can keep them from being part of the problem. A coordinated effort by Europe and the US will have a large impact on Iran's economy; China might help but the Russian economy is so bad that it can't help itself, let alone buffer Iran from an economic boycott.

The second action: pull out of the G-8 conference scheduled for July. Putin wants to use it to convince his people that despite his progressively autocratic and dictatorial changes, Russia still has the imprimatur of the West. Take it away from him. Refuse to attend any economic summit hosted by Russia. We have the power to humiliate Putin, and we should start using it. The Russians need to know that we will not stand quietly while they undermine us diplomatically or militarily, and if Putin wants to play that game, we can play it better.

This is not the Russia we imagined when Boris Yeltsin stared down a Communist putsch, or even the Russia of six years ago. Putin wants a Cold War, and eventually we will have to provide it.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 22, 2006 9:19 AM

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