The UN Security Council voted on Wednesday, 9 June 2010, to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Iran for failing to halt its nuclear enrichment program. The sanctions are less rigorous than the US had advocated.
By going along with the sanctions proposed by the US, Russia and China have removed the possibility of an attack by Israel and the US for the immediate future. The US must be seen to give the new sanctions time to work. Iran is safe from attack for months, if not years.
By going along with the new sanctions, Russia and China have created a situation where President Obama certainly cannot justify an attack on Iran until after the November elections, and so he will not be able to use Iran as a campaign issue to keep Democrats in control of Congress. Nor will the US administration be able to Iran as a distraction from its failure to fix the economy, plug the BP Deepwater Horizon oil leak, or hide from the Gaza blockade issue.
Further, US businesses are complaining that the new sanctions will harm them more than they will harm Iran.
Russia has stated that it will retaliate if sanctions hurt Russian interests.
As well, Russia has said that its long-standing contract to supply surface-to-air missiles to Iran will not be affected by new UN sanctions.
Russia agreed to supply Iran with S-300 systems several years ago but has not delivered them.
The US and Israel are concerned the S-300 missiles, designed to counter both aircraft and cruise missiles, might be used to protect Iran's nuclear facilities from attack.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed the missiles were not subject to the limits set by the UN on cooperation with Iran.
Lavrov also said Moscow was in talks on building further nuclear reactors in Iran.