Denting President Obama’s hopes for a powerful ally in his campaign to press Iran on its nuclear program, Russia’s foreign minister said Tuesday that threatening Tehran now with harsh new sanctions would be “counterproductive.”
The minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said after meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton here that diplomacy should be given a chance to work, particularly after a meeting in Geneva this month in which the Iranian government said it would allow United Nations inspectors to visit its clandestine nuclear enrichment site near the holy city of Qum.
“At the current stage, all forces should be thrown at supporting the negotiating process,” he said. “Threats, sanctions and threats of pressure in the current situation, we are convinced, would be counterproductive.” [continued…]
Iranian authorities launched a provocative attack on the opposition movement Tuesday by announcing a special investigation of prominent cleric Mehdi Karroubi over his accusations that security forces raped and tortured protesters after the disputed June reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The move against Karroubi, a revered figure from Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, is an attack on the heart of the opposition. It’s an indication that the government is increasing pressure on top dissenters, even clerics, and it follows death sentences handed to at least two anti-government protesters.
The investigation will test the resolve of the opposition and has the potential to unleash another round of street demonstrations, which recently have been largely thwarted by the Revolutionary Guard and the Basiji militia. At a rally in September, protesters shouted: “If Karroubi is arrested, there will be insurrections across Iran.” [continued…]