Iran Sanctions Draft Covers S300?

My first reaction on reading the draft resolution of the U.N. sanctions against Iran (.pdf) now being circulated was that the economic component seemed pretty ho-hum, certainly far from the crippling measures we’ve been hearing about for the past few months. On the other hand, the military component caught my eye, because it seemed to put the kabosh on any hope Iran might still have of taking delivery of the Russian-made S-300 air defense missile systems it had contracted for.

Today the AFP is reporting that if the draft stands as written, that is in fact the case. That represents a major concession from Russia, so look in the next few weeks for news of a Russian arms purchase by a U.S.-friendly Gulf state — probably the Saudis — to make Russia right on any resulting loss of revenue. It also locks in the status quo, leaving Iran far more exposed to an air strike, even if other considerations (hardened sites, airspace flyovers, distance) make such a strike difficult to pull off as things now stand.

Also on the Iran fuel swap deal, while everyone’s been focusing on the Turkish-Brazilian role, another angle of their mediation effort has gotten a lot less attention — namely, that they had been setting up a hand-off not only to the Vienna Group (U.S., France, Russia and the IAEA), but also to the EU’s special representative on foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton. Now it looks like Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, might meet Ashton in Turkey, although nothing has been formally scheduled. That raises the question of what the subject of those talks would be.

Some have suggested that Turkey and Brazil’s involvement in unblocking the fuel swap deal muddied the waters enough, by diluting the negotiating table. I think those fears are unfounded, because it seems clear that both states saw their role as simply getting Iran back to the table. But now it looks like there might be some confusion as to which table the Iranians are returning to, and just what they’d be discussing. The Iran-Turkey-Brazil trilateral agreement specified that Iran would follow up with a formal proposal to the Vienna Group. So it would help if Ashton clarified just what she intends to negotiate with Jalili. I’d also be curious to see what the U.S., French and British position on her involvement is, as I haven’t seen any coverage of that yet.

Finally, I’d been thinking that the Turkish-Brazilian mediation had been undermined by an enormous diplomatic blunder: Either the White House failed to articulate to Ankara and Brasilia that continued Iranian uranium enrichment to 20 percent was a deal-killer, or else the Turkish and Brazilians ignored such a warning. I’d suspected it was the former, but this NY Times piece from Monday reported that President Barack Obama sent “detailed letters in the last week of April outlining specific concerns,” although it doesn’t specify just what those were. That’s something to watch out for before jumping to conclusions about who embarassed who.