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Trade: The Price For Russian Help With Iran?

Russia and China are standing strong against American efforts to coax them into taking a stronger stance on Iran’s nuclear program. But perhaps Obama has found a way persuade the Russians to change sides: trade. As the WSJ reports,

Mr. Obama also said that with Russia on the verge of joining the World Trade Organization, the administration would work with Congress to remove Cold War-era trade restrictions. In comments to business executives attending the APEC CEO Summit, he said Russia’s entry would be good for the U.S. and global economy, while providing Moscow with additional incentives to move forward on reforms.

Mr. Medvedev said following the meeting that Russia hadn’t received such support for its WTO bid from previous administrations, and that joining the WTO would benefit global trade relations.

With Russia it is always important to have a clear agenda.  Here’s the question: what kind of help will Russia give the US on the Iranian nuclear issue in exchange for “Permanent Normal Trading Relations” and an end to the Cold War restrictions?  If the price is right, the deal could work — and if Congress is convinced that Russia has made a strategic decision on the Iranian issue, it could be willing to repeal old laws like Jackson-Vanick.

The US and Russia can both benefit from better, more businesslike relations.  Americans can’t get their hopes up too much; Russia is as Russia does and it will not make big domestic changes to make America happy.  But where we can line up our interests internationally so that we can both get what we want, and where the deal is clear and we can be unambiguously clear they fulfill the bargain, cooperation makes sense.

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