Reuters: The conflict between Russia and Georgia may indirectly benefit Iran by making it more difficult for the West to reach consensus with Moscow on new U.N. sanctions, Iranian newspapers said on Sunday.
TEHRAN, Aug 24 (Reuters) – The conflict between Russia and Georgia may indirectly benefit Iran by making it more difficult for the West to reach consensus with Moscow on new U.N. sanctions, Iranian newspapers said on Sunday.
Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, has long been a reluctant backer of the U.S.-led push to pressure Iran with sanctions, although Moscow has eventually backed three sanctions resolutions after watering them down.
The daily Iran News said the Georgia conflict, which has heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow, may now make it more difficult for the United States and its Western allies to secure Russian backing for a fourth round of sanctions.
The West accuses Tehran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran says it is mastering atomic technology to make electricity.
The English-language newspaper said there were "unintended positive consequences for Iran" from the crisis in Georgia.
"First and foremost, it has taken the Iran nuclear crisis off the front pages of newspapers and headlines of the international media," it said, adding it also raised questions about Western charges that Iran is the "greatest threat to world peace and security" when Russia was sending troops into Georgia.
It added: "It makes the enforcement of already ratified sanctions against Tehran more challenging, difficult and harder to implement, and moreover significantly reduces the chances of consensus among the veto-wielding U.N. Security Council powers for the imposition of a fourth round of punitive measures against our nation."
Iran's failure to convince world powers of its peaceful nuclear aims has led to three sets of U.N. sanctions since 2006.
Russia, with China, has been wary about imposing penalties that have been firmly backed the other permanent Security Council members — the United States, Britain and France.
But Iran News added a note of caution: "Even though one hopes the Western-Russian friction proves advantageous for Iran, it is important to emphasise that snapshot perception of events is often incomplete and at times downright false."
Another English-language newspaper, Kayhan International, also referred to Western experts who it said believed Washington's criticism of Russia over Georgia had "jeopardised (the) U.S. strategic objective of exerting pressure on Iran".
But Kayhan dismissed any suggestion Iran therefore welcomed the crisis and said: "Georgia is not far from Iran's border and Tehran is not happy to see Russian or Georgian people get killed over territorial disputes so that it could subtly benefit from it in the nuclear dispute with the West."
The Georgian conflict erupted on Aug. 7-8 when Georgia tried to retake the pro-Russian area of South Ossetia. A Russian counter-offensive pushed into Georgia proper, sparking criticism from Washington and others that Moscow had gone too far. (Writing by Edmund Blair, editing by Mary Gabriel)