US sanctions against Iran bypassing UN are unacceptable – Lavrov

Russia's Foreign Minister, Segrey Lavrov
The United States should not bypass the UN Security Council and unilaterally sanction Iran over its nuclear program, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

According to the top Russian diplomat, some problems remain in the current American administration.

“The United States, unlike an overwhelming majority of states, does not consider international legal acts with their participation as superior to its national legislation,” he clarified, speaking at the plenary meeting of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament.

Now, he said, “we are facing this problem when discussing once more the possibility of passing a new Security Council resolution on Iran.”

“We act on the premise that when the Security Council makes collective decisions, countries that strictly follow them under no circumstances can be subject to unilateral sanctions adopted by any country bypassing the UN,” Lavrov said, as quoted by Interfax agency.

Unfortunately, he said, that is the American position today: “There is no understanding of that absolutely clear truth.”

Nevertheless, he went on, there are signs of recovery in the relations between Moscow and Washington. The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed by presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev on April 8 in Prague is an example of that.

The START signing was indeed a landmark event in the history of fraught relations between the two nuclear powers and an important step towards a world without nuclear weapons also.

However, even though months of tough negotiations are behind and the document has been signed, it now has to pass through yet another challenge to come into effect: ratification by national parliaments.

According to Minister Lavrov, the agreement will soon be submitted to the State Duma.

“Earlier, the Russian president instructed to synchronize the ratification of the treaty with the Americans. We will follow this instruction,” he added.

However, some believe that the ratification of the document may be delayed.

“The Republicans will want to put off the ratification of the treaty until after the midterm elections [to be held on November 2, 2010,] in the hopes that those elections will increase their leverage vis-à-vis the White House,” Thomas Graham, a senior director at consulting firm Kissinger Associates, said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Graham believes that “two complex and controversial issues will dominate the debate: the future of the American nuclear arsenal; and the Obama administration's Russia policy.”

“Republicans will want to press the administration to commit to modernizing the nuclear forces, even as its size is being reduced, and they will seek assurances that the administration is still committed to missile defense,” he said.

Foreign policy priorities

Speaking Thursday, Lavrov outlined priorities in Russia’s foreign policy. These include “establishing a constructive dialogue” with the EU, China, India, the US, including their business representatives.

At the same time, he added, there is growing significance of developing economic ties with the Latin America and resource rich African countries.

As for partnership with neighbors – former Soviet states – Lavrov mentioned the recently signed agreement between Moscow and Kiev to extend the Russian Black Sea Fleet lease in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

“I believe this international legal action is one of the most important ones for strengthening strategic partnership with our closest neighbor – Ukraine. It made it possible to remove a serious potential irritant from our relations for the coming decades,” Lavrov said.