Russian Parliamentarian Wants to Expand Ties with Iran

Moscow. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

While the US and Europe are spearheading efforts to pressure Iran through sanctions into compromising on the nuclear front, a Russian official on Wednesday announced hopes to bolster economic links with Tehran. The Iranian Fars News Agency said that Russian parliament member Nikolai Levichev specifically mentioned relationships between the two nations’ banks, a key target of Western sanctions.

Levichev, meeting in Tehran with an Iranian parliament member, also expressed a desire for Iran and Russia’s private sectors to work together, as well as to grow the ties between the two states’ parliaments. Levichev is the Deputy Speaker of the State Duma—the lower level of Russia’s parliament—and Head of the Russia-Iran Parliamentary Friendship Group.

The comments came the same day that Israeli President Shimon Peres noted the need to expand sanctions on Iran in a conversation with a visiting American official. In comments released by the Israeli press office, Peres told US Senator Marco Rubio, “We must continue to intensify the sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program and make clear that all options remain on the table. We must also deal with the abuses of human rights of the Iranian regime against its own citizens and the citizens of the region.”

Rubio—a member of Republican Party—noted that the US is united in its refusal to accept a nuclear Iran and that both Republicans and Democrats support the US relationship with Israel.

“We remain deeply committed, above all else, to Israel’s security,” Rubio was quoted as saying in the press release. “Like every nation, like every sovereign people, the people of Israel have the right to be safe. The ties between the United States and Israel are unbreakable. Israel represents everything the United States stands for, a vibrant democracy.”

The bipartisan American support for preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons was on display on Wednesday. The same day Rubio made his comments in Israel, former Democrat senator and new Secretary of State John Kerry expressed similar sentiments in a speech at an American university.

Kerry was quoted by his office as telling students on Wednesday, “When we join with other nations to reduce the nuclear threat, we build partnerships that mean we don’t have to fight those battles alone. This includes working with our partners around the world in making sure that Iran never obtains a weapon that would endanger our allies and our interests.”

Iran is expected to be one of the primary discussion topics during US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Israel next month.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, February 21, 2013)