Senators Urge Obama to Focus on Iran at Russian Summit

Posted July 2, 2009 at 3:41pm

A bipartisan group of Senators on Thursday called on President Barack Obama to make Iran a priority issue during next week’s summit with Russian President Demetri Medvedev in Moscow.

“We strongly urge you to put preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability as the top priority in your discussions with Russia’s leadership,— states a letter to Obama from Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Negotiations over bilateral arms control, missile defense in Europe, civilian nuclear cooperation and World Trade Organization accession “must be conducted with an eye towards Russian policy on Iran. We believe that the United States should not make unilateral gestures without specific understandings that Moscow will support tougher measures against Iran if Tehran does not soon suspend its enrichment program,— the letter continues.

The Senators say that while Russia has backed past U.N. resolutions demanding that Iran cease its nuclear enrichment activities, such resolutions need to be tougher. The United States will have a greater impact on Iran’s activities if Russia signals its support for tougher resolutions, they say.

Obama must “make it known that Russia should not expect progress on issues of concern to Moscow if it does not take a tougher stance on Iran,— the letter concludes.