U.S. Needs Russia's Help with Iran

The United States has claimed to “reset” its relationship with Russia but it will test its former Cold War nemesis in asking for help when dealing with Iran. In signing an updated nuclear non-proliferation agreement, the two powerhouse nations are leading the effort in nuclear disarmament, but the U.S. is hoping for a united front with respect to Iran sanctions. President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev will sit down for a bilateral meeting prior to the treaty signing in which the main topic of discussion will be Iran.

Moscow has a long-standing diplomatic and trade relationship with Tehran and has been reluctant to sign onto any sanctions. Earlier this week, Sergei Rakkov, Russia’s chief negotiator on Iran nuclear talks, told the Interfax news agency “we still have not lost hope for a solution to the Iranian nuclear problem through dialogue with Iran.”

Iran has adamantly denied it is developing nuclear weapons and insists its nuclear enrichment program is for civilian use only. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Russia, Britain, China, France and the United States – plus Germany have been involved in constant talks to try and end a nuclear standoff. While China has been the most hesitant member of the P5+1 group, experts believe that Washington needs to negotiate Iran sanctions, first with Russia and secondly with China.  Andrew Kuchins of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says “the hope has always been that you get the Russians and that’ll help to bring the Chinese along.”

The Obama administration has long proposed acting against Iran as a “unified international community” but strong sanctions have yet to be put in place against the country and President Obama admits not all countries are on board with sanctions.   Last Thursday, President Obama called Chinese President Hu-Jintao telling him their two countries needed to work together "to ensure that Iran lives up to its international obligations."

Both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu-Jintao will be in Washington next week for President Obama’s nuclear summit.