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Experts: Netanyahu's visit to Moscow will not change Russia's position on Iran's nuclear program

Politics Materials 11 February 2010 10:45 (UTC +04:00)
The upcoming visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow late this week will not change Russia's position on Iran's nuclear program, experts said.
Experts: Netanyahu's visit to Moscow will not change Russia's position on Iran's nuclear program

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 10 / Trend U. Sadikhova /

The upcoming visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow late this week will not change Russia's position on Iran's nuclear program, experts said.

"Netanyahu's visit will be nothing more than tactical. Rather, the Israeli prime minister will need to 'compare notes' with Russia's leadership on the Iranian nuclear program," Middle East Institute President Yevgeny Satanovsky told Trend over the phone from Moscow.

During a three-day trip to Moscow, Netanyahu intends to make every effort to get Russia's support for the adoption of new sanctions against Iran, the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.

Netanyahu's first official visit to Moscow will be realized amid increasing signs of impatience by the West.

On Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged the international community to exert pressure on Iran and compel it to abandon its nuclear program. At the same time, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave instructions to produce nuclear fuel, capable of feeding a research atomic reactor, RIA News reported.

However, analysts do not link the Israeli prime minister's visit to Moscow with Russia's stance on Iran's nuclear program. Israeli press reported that he secretly visited the capital of Russia in September last year.

One of the major issues discussed at the meeting was a delivery agreement of anti-missile system S300 between Russia and Iran two years ago. Russia's media reported that later Moscow refused to sell the anti-missile system to Iran, due to U.S. and Israeli dissatisfaction.

Discussions about S300 supplies will not be the main part of Netanyahu's visit to Moscow, Zvi Magen, Israeli Institute for National Security Studies research fellow on Russia-Middle East Policy, said.

Russia, along with China, is against the sixth round of sanctions against Iran.

Up to now, the Security Council has approved five resolutions to suspend Iran's nuclear program. Three of them envisage economic sanctions against Iran.

Magen is not sure that Israel will be able to persuade Moscow to support sanctions because the main pressure on Russia comes from the West.

"I am not sure that this issue is relevant to Israel because the main pressure on Russia about this subject is done by the U.S. and the western powers. Despite the support for sanctions against Iran, Israel does not play a key role in this," Magen told Trend over the phone.

Theodore Karasik, specializing in Middle East security, thinks that Russia always joins the West on talks of sanctions against Iran at the last minute.

At the same time, according to Iranian analyst on international relations, Hassan Behishtipur, the Iranian nuclear program will become one of the points of discussions between Israel and Russia.

"But it is doubtful that such a country as Russia, will follow Israel's advice and guidance on the issue of cooperation with Iran," Behishtipur told Trend over phone from Tehran.

Some observers do not rule out that Russia's role in the peace process in the Middle East will be censured in the agenda of Israeli prime minister's visit.

Netanyahu will arrive in Russia in a week will meet with Russia's top officials in Moscow.

"This visit will be linked to Middle East peace process, because Russia has so far intensified in that direction," Magen said.

Karasik agrees with him. He also believes that Russia and Israel can once again raise questions of military cooperation.

Before the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008, Russia and Israel had close military cooperation ties that were interrupted by this short conflict.  Perhaps those relations are on the mend,  director of research and development of Military-Analytical Institute Middle East and Persian Gulf (INEGMA), Karasik told Trend via e-mail.

T. Jafarov contributed to this article.

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