Who's Driving a Wedge Between Whom?

February 7, 2017

The Wall Street Journal yesterday cited an unnamed "senior administration official," claiming that the Trump Administration wants to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran. This drew an appropriate response by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who told Sputnik, "WSJ and many others engage in nothing other than seeking out causes for unfounded speculation, and attempt to poison the atmosphere in the relationship" between Russia and the United States, which is warming after eight years of Obama brinksmanship.

From the standpoint of Russian-Iranian relations, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov also denounced the story.

"We do not agree with this approach," Peskov said when asked whether the Kremlin agreed with the statement of President Donald Trump, who called Iran the "number-one terrorist state." "You know that the Russian Federation has partner-like and good relations with Iran. We are cooperating on a number of issues; we value our relations in the trade and economic sphere, and look forward to their further development," he told reporters.

"It is no secret that positions of Moscow and Washington are diametrically different on a whole range of international and regional policies. This cannot and should not become an obstacle to the establishment of normal communications and pragmatic, mutually beneficial relations between Russia and the United States," Peskov said, regarding whether Moscow's and Washington's stances on Iran could be an impediment to establishment of ties.

Ryabkov, for his part, said that Moscow regrets the latest sanctions the United States imposed on Iran after its latest missile test. "We regret that this happened," Ryabkov told reporters, noting that the existing mechanism ensuring the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program is being implemented without "specific problems."

Ryabkov pointed out that Iran's missile test did not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran to refrain from nuclear-capable missile activity. "We have communicated this position to the U.S. side, too. We hope that the strict and accurate interpretation of the JCPOA provisions and the resolution will be important in determining Washington's future course in this area," he said.

Since the sanctions include companies in China, the Chinese made a representation to the United States over the expansion of the sanctions. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during a press briefing: "As regards new U.S. sanctions against Iran that include Chinese companies, we made a representation to the U.S. side," Lu said at a briefing. He stressed that China remained opposed to any unilateral sanctions, especially those that affect a third country.