Iran General NewsUS Sen. McCain: Bar Russia from G8 over Iran...

US Sen. McCain: Bar Russia from G8 over Iran deal

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Reuters: The United States should seek to bar Russia from this year’s major-nation summit to protest actions by Moscow including its deal on Sunday to provide Iran nuclear fuel, a leading Republican senator said. Lawmakers from both major parties joined in calling for Russia to be punished for the nuclear deal and what they said were anti-democratic actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin, although the French, German and British ambassadors to the United States opposed barring Russia from the summit. Reuters

By Randall Mikkelsen

WASHINGTON – The United States should seek to bar Russia from this year’s major-nation summit to protest actions by Moscow including its deal on Sunday to provide Iran nuclear fuel, a leading Republican senator said.

Lawmakers from both major parties joined in calling for Russia to be punished for the nuclear deal and what they said were anti-democratic actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin, although the French, German and British ambassadors to the United States opposed barring Russia from the summit.

“This latest step of the Russians vis-a-vis the Iranians calls for sterner measures to be taken between ourselves and Russia. It has got to, at some point, begin to harm our relations,” Sen. John McCain of Arizona said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Russia and Iran signed their nuclear-fuel supply deal in defiance of long U.S. opposition and only days after Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush met at a summit in Slovakia.

McCain accused Putin of carrying out “aberrational” policies and acting “like a spoiled child,” not only in the Iran deal but in domestic policies that McCain said limited press freedom and tightened Kremlin control over Russian regions.

“The United States and our European allies should start out by saying, ‘Vladimir, you’re not welcome at the next G8 conference,'” said McCain, an influential member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The next summit of the Group of Eight major nations, which includes Russia, is scheduled for Scotland in July.

The White House had no immediate comment on the signing of the supply agreement. The United States believes Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons and is concerned that by supplying Iran with fuel for a Russian-built nuclear reactor, Moscow could aid a weapons program.

Iran, rich in oil but struggling to provide power for a growing population, denies it is developing nuclear arms and says its program is solely for generating electricity.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, applauded McCain for proposing Russia be barred from the summit. “It is time for the Russian government to pay a price for empowering the bad guys and slipping back away from democracy,” Graham told CNN’s “Late Edition.”

U.S. Rep. Jane Harman of California, the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said on the same program: “This is the time to be tough with Russia. Russia has been transferring technology to Iran for 10 years.”

SAFEGUARDS

Russia says safeguards in the deal will prevent any diversion of nuclear materials for covert weapons programs. At their summit last week, Bush said he and Putin agreed Iran should not have a nuclear weapon.

McCain rejected Iran’s denials. “They’re sitting on a sea of oil, as we know. That alone makes one suspect that they want to have nuclear capabilities for other reasons,” he said.

The United States and European leaders should adopt a common approach to Iran, with Washington backing Europe to offer incentives to scrap any weapons-related activities. But Europe must also be prepared to impose sanctions if Iran does not comply, McCain said.

“We have to give them (the Iranians) a lot of carrots, but the Europeans have got to agree with us that if those carrots don’t work, we go to the United Nations for sanctions against Iran,” he said.

The French, German and British ambassadors to the United States, also speaking on “Late Edition,” said Russia should participate in the G8 summit.

British Ambassador David Manning added, however, “We also want a reaffirmation (from Russia) of the sort of partnership that is possible on the basis of common and shared values.”

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