#39 - JRL 2009-186 - JRL Home

Iran sanctions may test reset of U.S.-Russian relations - U.S.researcher

WASHINGTON. Oct 7 (Interfax) - The Iran nuclear problem remains a
key factor in resetting U.S.-Russian relations, said Angela Stent,
professor of government and foreign service and director of the Center
for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies in the Georgetown School
of Foreign Service.

If a number of European countries and the U.S. support a new
resolution imposing stricter sanctions on Iran and Russia refuses to
support it, this would affect the resetting process, Stent said in an
interview with Interfax.

Washington expects practical results from the negotiations on a new
treaty to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), although
it would not be easy to reach an agreement, Stent said. Despite the fact
that the negotiating teams are working very quickly, it would be very
difficult to make an agreement before December 2009, when START is to
expire, she said.

The U.S. and Russia still have a lot of differences regarding the
calculation of the weapons possessed by both sides, but the negotiating
teams are made up of people who have known each other from the Soviet
times, Stent said. Despite many technical problems, the parties will
eventually reach an agreement, Stent said.

Asked whether she believes the new U.S. Administration's position
on Georgia's and Ukraine's possible accession to NATO has changed, Stent
suggested that the Obama Administration cannot say that NATO would not
enlarge through the incorporation of former Soviet republics.

Stent said she would be surprised if some progress in this issue is
made under the Obama Administration and suggested that Ukraine's and
Georgia's accession to NATO would be suspended for some time.

There is not a single chance to narrow disagreements between Russia
and the U.S. on Georgia at the present time, as Russia recognizes
Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, while the U.S. firmly
supports Georgia's territorial integrity, Stent said. The only possible
decision now is to wait, she said.

Russia and the U.S. may work together on a lot of other problems
and pigeonhole the Georgia problem for some time, Stent said. Such
problems, like for instance, the problem of a divided Cyprus, are
usually longstanding, Stent said.

What counts most is that there should be no violence in these
regions, Stent said. She warned that, if an armed conflict develops
between Russia and Georgia, this would significantly complicate Russian-
U.S. relations.

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