As the United States turns up the sanctions heat yet again on Iran’s nuclear pretensions, the specter of a Middle East bristling with atomic warheads, fueled by mutual suspicion and ancient hatred, has been created by the Shia-Sunni divide. Over the past year, in reaction to the bellicose rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, several Muslim states in the region have quietly declared their own nuclear aspirations. Though the region’s rapid, oil-driven, economic growth rate of 5.7 percent in 2006 — creating an unprecedented strain on the region’s power infrastructure — is a factor, Sunni Muslim fears of Shia Iran’s […]

During his Oct. 30 visit to Tehran, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reaffirmed Moscow’s opposition to imposing any additional sanctions against Iran without the specific approval of the U.N. Security Council, where Russia enjoys the right of veto. Lavrov’s trip occurred as the six countries involved in negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program — China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — are debating whether to impose a third round of sanctions against Tehran. The Iranian government has resisted demands to curb its uranium enrichment program, which could provide the basis for manufacturing nuclear weapons. […]