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Faster Progress on Iran Nuclear Standoff Needed to Avert War: Specialists

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they prepare to deliver joint statements after meeting in Jerusalem on Monday. Faster progress in nuclear discussions with Iran might be necessary to avert armed conflict with the nation, according to Russian experts (AP Photo/Jim Hollander). Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they prepare to deliver joint statements after meeting in Jerusalem on Monday. Faster progress in nuclear discussions with Iran might be necessary to avert armed conflict with the nation, according to Russian experts (AP Photo/Jim Hollander).

Russian specialists have suggested a multilateral atomic dialogue with Iran might not be progressing quickly enough to prevent war, the Christian Science Monitor reported on Friday (see GSN, June 22).

Diplomats from Tehran met in Moscow last week with counterparts from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, but the sides failed to reach an agreement addressing suspicions that Iran's nuclear program is geared toward establishment of a weapons capability. Lower-ranking representatives of the six powers are scheduled on July 3 to confer in Turkey with delegates from Iran, which insists its nuclear ambitions are strictly peaceful.

The gloomy outlook of experts in Russia might be relevant in light of the significant disagreements between the sides ahead of next week's gathering, according to the Monitor. Moscow opposes the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran and has emphasized the necessity for a nonmilitary resolution to the standoff.

"For Russia the result [of previous discussions] is moderately positive," said Sergei Markov, a consultant to Russia's leadership and vice president of the Plekhanov Economic University in Moscow. "It showed Iran is more ready to express its views and compromise, and the Western side did not issue an ultimatum."

Still, a "more clear advance and quicker developments" are necessary in the dialogue to avert an armed exchange, Markov said. The probability is "quite high" for Israel to initiate an armed campaign against Iran either next month or in August, according to the specialist.

"If we would have three more years of such moderately positive results, it would be good," he said. "But in this much tighter time frame, it is not enough" (Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor I, June 22).

Moscow and Tel Aviv both both consider the Iranian nuclear armaments issue to constitute a global threat, the Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying during a Monday appearance alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin (Jerusalem Post, June 25).

"I believe two things must be done now: strengthening the sanctions and also boosting the demands," Reuters quoted Netanyahu as saying after meeting with Putin in Jerusalem. The Israeli leader did not discuss the potential for his nation to attack Iran (Gleb Bryanski, Reuters I/Yahoo!News, June 25).

Putin added: "We held a thorough discussion of the issue of Iran's nuclear program, and, even in the current situation, I estimate that we will continue to consult and work together, and that these issues will be resolved peacefully for the good of all sides," Haaretz reported. (Eli Shvidler, Haaretz, June 25).

Last week's multilateral exchange was "quite useful" despite its failure to produce a deal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday in comments reported by the Associated Press. The dialogue must move forward with no "artificial deadlines or ultimatums," he said.

"In order to settle the issue, it's necessary to refrain from constant threats of using force, abandon scenarios aimed against Iran, and stop dismissing the talks as failure," Lavrov told Rossiya-24 television (Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, June 22).

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said certain Iranian insiders believe a military strike on their country would be the "best thing ... because that would unify (Iran), it would legitimize the regime," the Monitor reported. The newspaper cited unidentified Western international relations officials as putting forward a similar argument (Peterson, Christian Science Monitor I).

A senior Iranian military officer on Saturday said Israeli use of force against his nation "would result in the end of [Israel's] labors," Reuters reported.

"If they act logically, such threats amount to a psychological war but if they want to act illogically, it is they who will be destroyed," Brig. Gen. Mostafa Izadi, deputy chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, told Iran's Fars News Agency (Marcus George, Reuters II, June 23).

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has no interest in wars with other countries, but we will strongly confront the enemies’ possible aggression and will give them a response that will make them regret the aggression,” the country's Press TV quoted Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the aerospace division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as saying on Sunday (Press TV, June 24).

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy on Saturday finished dispatching four more underwater explosives detection vessels to the Persian Gulf, Reuters reported.

Iranian Brig. Gen. Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan suggested his country could exercise power over the strategic Strait of Hormuz in protection of its priorities, the Iranian Students' News Agency reported on Monday. Officials and lawmakers in Iran have previously said their country could close the waterway, which is key to transport of oil from the region, in retaliation to a military strike or an embargo on petroleum sales (Fineren/George, Reuters III, June 25).

The 27-nation European Union on Monday said it still plans to institute a ban on Iranian petroleum starting on July 1, Reuters reported. The indication followed calls by Greece for exceptions aimed at lessening financial complications from the measure.

"There is no change in terms of how we're going forward on July 1," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton during a gathering of top diplomats. "The sanctions that have been agreed will be implemented" (Pawlak/Moffett, Reuters IV, June 25).

"We will intensify the sanctions over the coming months if there is no progress," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday in remarks quoted by Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse I/Channel News Asia, June 25).

A significant quantity of Iranian petroleum ships have received English-language titles and different states of registration ahead of the embargo's implementation, Reuters reported on Monday (Reuters V,June 25).

South Korean purchases of Iranian unrefined petroleum last month were 39.5 percent less than seen in the prior May, AFP reported on Monday, referring to initial data from Korea National Oil (Agence France-Presse II/Google News, June 25).

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday said Western powers are "against progress in Iran," Fars News reported.

"Nuclear weapons [are] a pretext to put pressures on Iran and stop Iranian nation's progress," Ahmadinejad said.

"The countries that have nuclear arms today, used those arms on certain occasions today through threats, claiming they cannot have these weapons," he said. "We believe that nuclear energy, along with other forms of energy, should be accessible to all nations and is the right of all nations. But nowadays, it is monopolized by a few" (Fars News Agency I, June 22).

The head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran on Saturday said "Western countries lost this decade by providing all sorts of incentives to the mullahs -- a decade of appeasement and fruitless negotiations."

"Stopping the Mullahs' nuclear threat is possible only through changing (its) dictatorial regime," Maryam Rajavi added. "If one is not interested in handing the bomb to the Mullahs, one should side with the Iranian people's resistance to topple the regime" (Irish/Karkarey, Reuters VI, June 23).

Meanwhile, the Stuxnet malware was scheduled to switch itself off on Sunday, the Monitor reported. Experts have credited the electronic attack program with setting back Iranian uranium enrichment efforts (Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor II, June 23).

Stuxnet did not succeed in secretly breaching and destroying Iranian uranium refinement capabilities, Fars News said on Sunday (Fars News Agency II, June 24).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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