WASHINGTON (JTA) — Russia and the United States must send signals that Iran should end its suspected nuclear weapons program, including possibly sanctions, the Russian president said.
"We have devoted lots of our time to the Iranian problem my colleague, Mr. President, rightly mentioned," Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday after his meeting with U.S. President Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. "Our task is to create such a system of incentives that would allow Iran to resolve its fissile nuclear program, but at the same time prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. That’s why we, as responsible members of international community and, indeed, two nuclear superpowers, should send great signals in that direction."
The major powers, including Russia and the United States, launch negotiations Oct. 1 with Iran to intensify an inspections regime of its suspected weapons program. Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful. Russia has until recently resisted U.S.-led efforts to threaten Iran with sanctions should it not cooperate; Medvedev, for the first time on Wednesday, sounded a more conciliatory note.
"As to also have sanctions, Russia’s belief is very simple, and I stated it recently — sanctions rarely lead to productive results," he said. "But in some cases sanctions are inevitable."
Obama’s decision last week to scrap a European missile defense system that was designed in part to contain Iran’s missile threat was a concession to Russian demands that NATO lower its profile on its doorstep; Medvedev was expected to soften opposition to sanctions as a quid pro quo.