Sunday, February 7, 2010

Netanyahu traveling to Russia to press Moscow on Iran

(Jpost).Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel to Moscow next Sunday for three days, his office announced on Sunday, for talks expected to focus on getting Russia to back stepped-up sanctions against Iran.

The visit, planned weeks ago, comes as the West is showing signs of growing impatience with what is starting to be seen throughout the US and Europe as little more than Iranian stalling tactics.

Israeli officials said they have been warning for months that as “crunch time” approaches, when a decision will have to be made on additional sanctions, Iran would “play all kinds of games.”

Israel, the officials said, remained active behind the scenes, urging the international community not to back down, and to see through the various Iranian ploys.

The issue is expected to dominate Netanyahu’s agenda in Moscow, where he will be making his first formal visit as prime minister. He went there in September for less than 24 hours, on a “secret” visit that was soon uncovered by the press.

One Israeli government official said the chances of Jerusalem or anyone else convincing the Russians that the time has come in the UN Security Council to impose crippling sanctions were slim, and that the US would likely initiate sanctions outside the UN framework, along with like-minded states.

Nevertheless, Washington, Israeli officials believe, will look for some kind of UN Security Council resolution calling for a fourth round of sanctions as a legal basis to take further, independent action.