Putin Poised to Retaliate by Trashing Iran Deal

putin-red

Now that the U.S.-Russia relationship has broken down, Moscow could throw a wrench into the teetering nuclear negotiations with Iran.

For the The Daily BeastJosh Rogin writes: The escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow, brought to fever by theMH17 airliner disaster, are finally to the point where they threaten to spoil the number one item on President Obama’s foreign policy agenda: the nuclear talks with Iran. The man doing the threatening is Russian President Vladimir Putin.Earlier this week, Putin promised to retaliate against the United States for new sanctions targeting his friends and business associates, as well as large Russian defense, energy, and financial firms.

 “If Putin decides that retaliating against the U.S. and ruining Obama’s foreign policy legacy is more important than sealing a pact with Iran, the whole thing could unravel.”

On Thursday, Putin called President Obama to alert him a civilian jetliner had crashed over Eastern Ukraine, a tragedy the U.S. says was caused by a missile shot from a Russian-made SA-11 mobile surface to air missile system located in a separatist-held area.Putin’s next call was to none other than the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.“Mr. Putin and Mr. Rouhani exchanged views on the state of talks on Iran’s nuclear program,” stated the Kremlin readout of the call. “The two leaders also examined bilateral cooperation matters of mutual interest, including joint projects in the oil and gas sector and in peaceful nuclear energy.”

“An extension is the only thing the Iranians need to complete their bomb work. The whole point of the sanctions was to make sure that time is not on the side of the Iranians.”

U.S. officials, lawmakers, and experts, have been watching and waiting for Putin to use the Iran negotiations as a way to mess with Obama ever since the tit-for-tat sanctions began in March.

Moscow and Tehran have been negotiating a $1.5 billion oil-for-goods exchange, which could undermine international pressure on Iran to make a deal with the West. But overall, Moscow has continued to be a reasonably constructive part of the international coalition pressing Iran to roll back its nuclear program.

The Obama administration on Friday announced a four-month extension to the talks, which would constitute perhaps the last chance Iran has to land a deal. “This will give us a short amount of additional time to continue working to conclude a comprehensive agreement, which we believe is warranted by the progress we’ve made and the path forward we can envision,” Kerry said in a statement.

But if Putin decides that retaliating against the U.S. and ruining Obama’s foreign policy legacy is more important than sealing a pact with Iran, the whole thing could unravel.

The shooting down of MH17 has escalated the diplomatic war between Washington and Moscow and made that scenario more likely because it could result in more sanctions and legal action against the Russian government….(read more)

The Daily Beast



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