Tensions between Russia and the United States over the problems in Ukraine spilled over to the Vienna nuclear talks with Iran on Wednesday. The chief envoy from Moscow at the Vienna negotiations warned that Russia might take some retaliatory measures, which might hurt the attempts to persuade Tehran to cut back its programs that might have the capacity to make atomic weapons.
Sergei Ryabkov, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia released a statement that was the most serious threat by Moscow of a reprisal for the sanctions place by the West against Russia because of its annexation of the Crimea region.
The key to coax Iran to long-term cutbacks in its nuke program is Russia. The cutbacks would be in exchange for relief of sanctions by the West and the U.N. Iran has insisted that it is not using its nuclear program to make arms, but instead wants a deal resulting in relief of all sanctions.
The threat by Russia came hours after the negotiating round had ended and appeared to surprise Washington.
Days prior to the latest meeting, a spokesperson at the State Department in the U.S. said she expected Russia to be an active partner in the nuclear talks.
During the talks of two-days, officials from the West involved described the participation of Russia as unchanged and constructive.
Ryabkov is said to have said Russia might feel the need to respond to the European Union and U.S. sanctions. He said his country considers the Crimea reunification more important than those developments that surround the nuclear program in Iran.
The United States and Russia often have different positions about Iran and its needs for its nuclear program, including the enrichment of uranium, which Iran has said it needs for reactor fuel, but which is also used for manufacturing missile warhead materials.
Prior to these current talks, diplomats said that Moscow would accept a bigger Iranian enrichment program than would Washington.
However, officials from the U.S. have always insisted that the U.S. and Russia are united in the goal of eliminating the threat of an Iran that is nuclear armed, even if the way to get there differs.