Experts: Rapprochement with West priority for Russia than relations with Iran

Politics Materials 2 June 2010 12:14 (UTC +04:00)
At the moment, rapprochement with the United States and Western countries is priority for Russia than its relations with Iran, but despite this, the prospect of a complete rupture between the two countries is unlikely, experts say.
Experts: Rapprochement with West priority for Russia than relations with Iran

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 2 / Trend T.Konyayeva /

At the moment, rapprochement with the United States and West countries is priority for Russia than its relations with Iran, but despite this, the prospect of a complete rupture between the two countries is unlikely, experts say.

"Moscow quite clearly demonstrates that it prioritized relations with Washington and key European powers," Russian National Strategy Institute Director Mikhail Remizov told Trend. "Russia's position on Iran is moving closer to the U.S., thus Moscow is ready to participate in the sanctions regime for a breakthrough in relations with the U.S. and European Union."

Late last week, Russian presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko said Russia's position on Tehran's nuclear program is neither pro-American nor pro-Iranian. He commented on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's critical statement to Russia's address

Earlier, Ahmadinejad in a televised address called an unacceptable Russia's possible support to sanctions against Tehran, which had been offered by the U.S. and now being discussed in the UN Security Council. He said by voting for sanctions, Russia will support those who showed hostility towards Iran during the past 30 years.

Despite Moscow's desire to improve relations with Washington and the EU, the Russian side delays the prospect of sanctions against Iran as long as possible, because that "would not want to lose the same market of peaceful atomic energy in Iran", Remizov believes.

"After the sanctions, to which Moscow joins, it usually loses its markets, to which come those powers which were the initiators of these sanctions, such as it was in Iraq. I think that scenario could repeat itself with Iran, so, of course, Moscow's objective interest is that the situation did not lead to sanctions and how long the Foreign Ministry and the Kremlin might delay the issue, under various pretexts, so much they do," he said.

But, Russia no longer occupies the principled position against sanctions, Remizov said.

Russia and China, which previously opposed the introduction of new tough measures against Iran, and urged a diplomatic solution, have joined the United States, Britain, France and Germany in supporting the IAEA resolution, insisting, however, to conduct a strategy of "dual path" involving a combination of sanctions and negotiations toward Iran.

Remizov believes the main problem of the Iranian-Russian relations lies in the fact that they, in fact, become now a function of the US-Iranian and Iranian-European relations.

"Only if much sharpness is spent, which now stands on issues of sanctions in the relations between Iran and the U.S. and the EU, then relations between Moscow and Tehran will be normalized and smoothed. If this severity increases, Moscow would be forced to follow in the wake of the Western powers, I think only up to the limit, until they [the U.S. and the EU] will dare to use force, "he said.

In this case, Moscow would not support this kind of operation either morally or in fact and in this case, Moscow's position just will stop being a function of the position of the U.S. and the EU and will independently in this matter. "

"I think that the problem will not lead to coercive methods, because yet there are no signs of scenario on force action against Iran," he said. "It seems that there is no even resoluteness on the remote application of force, but the desire to impose sanctions is".

Regarding the sanctions, Remizov believes Moscow is most likely to abstain or vote for their use.

The U.S. and other Western countries accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons for military purposes under the guise of peaceful nuclear energy program. Tehran denies the charges, saying that its nuclear program is aimed solely at meeting the country's electricity needs. The U.N. Security Council adopted five resolutions in connection with the suspension of Iran's nuclear program. Three involve the use of economic sanctions on Iran.

Remizov said one should not forget about the existence of China, which is even less interested in the sanctions against Iran than Moscow.

"It would be unfair to impose a mission of the international lawyer for Tehran on Moscow, where China's interests are more ambitious and significant," he said. "If China would behave more actively in this matter, perhaps, the load on the Russian diplomats would be reduced, and it could afford a few more."

China, as a permanent member of UN Security Council, opposed the introduction of new restrictive measures against Iran until April 2010. Moreover, since September of 2009, Chinese companies actively resumed exports of gasoline to Iran, the supply of which the United States and several Western countries intend to limit.

U.S. permanent representative to the UN, Susan Rice said that China had agreed to "serious discussion" of sanctions measures against Iran in early April.

Remizov named the Bushehr plant as rubicon in the Iran-Russian relations, which will determine their status.

"This is the clip, which still holds Moscow's interest in Iran unwillingness to objectively bring the case to the sanctions," he said. "It is possible that it will donate to the Kremlin in his big game at a rapprochement with the U.S. and the EU. Donate, with high probability knowing that the next step or a step on the vacant place on the nuclear market will come to those who are most called for sanctions, for example, the same France."

The Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is under construction in Iran near the city of Bushehr, is the first nuclear power plant in Iran and throughout the Middle East. Construction of nuclear power plant was begun in 1975 by the West-German concern Kraftwerk Union, but in 1980, construction was halted due to the FRG's accession to the sanctions imposed against Iran by the United States.

Russia and Iran signed an agreement on further construction of nuclear power plants Aug.25, 1992. Contract for the completion of the first unit was signed in January 1995 and construction management was transferred to AtomStroyExport in 1998. The plant's commissioning was scheduled for 2010.

Iranian expert on international affairs Hasan Behishtipur believes Russia does not distance itself from Iran, but tries to improve its relations with the United States.

"For this reason, Moscow tries to minimize the points of contention with the U.S.," Behishtipur told Trend over the telephone." One of these issues is Iran's nuclear program."

He said Russia expects Iran to understand its position, and Iran, in turn, wants to explain to Russia that it should not sacrifice long term benefits of relations with Iran, for short-term benefits derived from the agreement with the U.S. over Iran's nuclear program.

"Iran and Russia will be able to resolve this political incident through diplomatic channels," Behishtipur said.

T.Jafarov contributed to the article.

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