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US, Russia Oppose G8 Sanctions on Iran

Russia and the US are likely to oppose further sanctions on Iran at the G8 Summit this week, despite pressure from other nations to punish Tehran.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 7/7/2009, 12:36 PM

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Both Russia and the United States are likely to oppose the imposition of further political or economic sanctions on Iran at this week's G8 Summit. This, despite pressure from other G8 nations to punish Tehran for its violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at home, as well as to influence its nuclear development policy.

The summit starts Wednesday in L'Aquila, Italy.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Italy's Rai television station on Saturday, "If I understand correctly, the United States would like to establish more open and more direct relations with Iran. We support this choice. It would be counter-productive to resort to other sanctions." He added that additional sanctions imposed by G8 nations would most likely fail and would inflame tensions with the Islamic Republic.

Parallel with the Russian president's statements, unidentified U.S. officials were cited by Haaretz on Saturday as agreeing that tougher sanctions would push Iran away from dialogue with the United Nations over its nuclear program. The American officials said that the situation in Iran will be the leading agenda item at the meeting of the G8 nations - the U.S., Russia, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.

Despite the opposition of Russia and the U.S., Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed confidence early last week that the G8 would agree to impose harsher sanctions on the Islamic Republic. He said that he reached that conclusion after discussing the matter with other G8 leaders.

The European Union and the U.S. already have some sanctions on Iran in place. Certain Iranian officials are barred from the EU, while the U.S. prohibits large-scale trade with the Islamic Republic. Harsher international pressure on the Khamenei regime, if adopted, could include preventing energy companies from continuing to do business in Iran, either as purchasers of the nation's oil or as gasoline exporters.