Russia may initially mediate between U.S., Iran

Russia may initially mediate between U.S., Iran

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 9 / Trend , D.Ibrahimova /

Russia can absolutely help with negotiations between Iran and the U.S., but it will depend on the relations between Moscow and Washington.

"I think that Russia can help with negotiations between Iran and the West on Tehran's nuclear program," American military expert Viktoria Samson said to Trend news.

Russian officials made a statement that they were ready to help with dialogue between the U.S. and Iran, the RIA Novosti reported.

The U.S.-Iran relationships were broken in 1981. Since then no negotiations on high level has taken place between the countries. The relations between the two countries became worsening with development of the Iranian nuclear program. The U.S. doubts in peace purpose of the program. Iran insists on the peace purpose of the nuclear program.

U.S. President Barack Obama earlier voiced readiness to cooperate with Iran. However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Washington must ask pardon from Tehran for its actions, whereupon Tehran will agree to launch negotiations with Washington.

Experts disagree whether Russia could have an influence on the relationship between the U.S and Iran and to become a mediator to launch a dialogue between the countries.

Russia still holds a lot of power over Iran. Iran depends on the strategic defence of Moscow and Russian deliveries of air defence system.

According to Russian expert Vladimir Evseev, Russia may make some proposals to shift negotiations with Iran, which is an extremely complicated negotiator. Russia could offer to hold a meeting in multilateral format, but Iran must join the discussion of the challenge.

The bilateral U.S.-Iranian format will be an ideal. However, the experience shows us that the U.S. never goes on direct negotiations.

The U.S. and the North Korea talks were initially held in multilateral format, then they were held in bilateral format.

However, Iranian experts doubt that Russia is interested in beginning negotiations between Washington and Tehran and can assist in its holding.

Russian officials made a statement in contrast to a widespread opinion that Russia does not support establishing relations between U.S. and Iran, because it will entail weakening of its position, Iranian Expert on Russian Policy Hasan Bekhishtipoor believes.

According to observers, if U.S. and Iran cooperate, probability of Iran's participating in Nabucco project will increase which is unprofitable for Russia, as it is still a giant gas provider to Europe.

The Nabucco project worth 7.9 billion euro will deliver Azerbaijani and Central Asian gas to the EU. Construction of the pipeline is expected to begin in 2011. The first deliveries via the pipeline will begin in 2014.

Bekhishtipoor said that Iran and U.S. can cooperate without Russia's mediating.

"If it is profitable for Iran to cooperate with U.S., if relevant conditions are created for this cooperation and if Obama's administration really cooperates with Iran, then Iran and Washington will not need a mediator," Bekhishtipoor told Trend in a telephone conversation.

Russia's mediating in the U.S.-Iranian relations will depend on relations between U.S. and Russia, Center for Defense Information Senior Analyst Victoria Samson said.

Russia's mediation will depend on: will the United States continue with its missile defense in Europe? Will Russia hold off indefinitely on putting Iskanders in Kalingrad? Can Russia and the United States come to a mutually acceptable conclusion to talks to renew the START treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty)?

By 2010, U.S. intends to place radar in the Czech Republic and 10 missile-interceptors in Poland under pretext of protection from Iranian missile threat. Russia fears these systems will threaten its security. Early November, Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev said that Russia will place Isgandar missile complex in Kaliningrad region, as well as apply radio-electronic neutralization of Missile Defense Shield (MDS) as a response to placing U.S. MDS elements in Europe.

R. Agayev (Moscow) and T. Jafarov (Baku) contributed in the article.

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