Experts: Moscow cools off Tehran due to refusal to implement Vienna Agreement

Experts: Moscow cools off Tehran due to refusal to implement Vienna Agreement

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 15 /Trend T.Konyayeva/

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's statement on the Iranian nuclear program may be an indication of deterioration of Moscow's position on Tehran because of Iran's refusal to participate in an exchange of nuclear fuel with Russia, experts say.

"Russia has apparently changed its position on Iran," Meir Litvak, professor at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, wrote in an e-mail to Trend.

Earlier this week, President Dmitry Medvedev said that Iran was approaching to possess potential, which can be used to create nuclear weapons.

He also remembered that in principle, possessing such potential does not contradict the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Therefore, it needs to carefully approach this issue and continue to negotiate with Tehran. The President of Russia stressed that resuming dialogue was the main goal of a new resolution of the UN Security Council adopted in June.

According to Litvak, Russia was offended by Iran's conduct, when it proposed the deal to enrich some of the Iranian uranium in its territory as a way to help Iran, and they were surprised or felt betrayed by Iran turning to Turkey and Brazil, thereby completely marginalizing Russia's role. 

In October last year, a so-called Vienna Agreement was proposed, under which in mediation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran was supposed to transfer to Russia about 1.2 tons of 1.5 tons low-enriched uranium (LEU) obtained in the Natanz nuclear center by the end of 2009. Russia had to enrich the material at 20 percent, then it had to be sent from Russia to France for the manufacture of uranium fuel rods, because the research reactor in Tehran was established based on French technology. Tehran would have ready fuel for the reactor, which can not be used to create nuclear weapons.

The scheme was approved practically by all participants of the talks in Vienna. Later, however, Tehran began to impose conditions and make amendments.

Later on, on May 17, Iran, Turkey and Brazil signed a trilateral agreement (Tehran agreement) on the exchange of 1200 kg of low enriched uranium (LEU) for 20-percent fuel in Turkey. Iranian LEU can be sent to Turkey for a month after the signing of an agreement between Tehran and IAEA.

"It seems that Russia had underestimated the scope or progress of the Iranian project before, and they were surprised by the speed of Iran's progress or by the fact that Iran had hidden certain installations from them," said Litvak.

Russia was also offended by the expulsion of Russian pilots from Iran several months ago, he said.

In March, the Iranian authorities gave all Russian pilots of civilian aircraft, who worked in the Islamic Republic, two months to leave the country. Iranian Transport Minister Hamid Behbahani explained the decision with the absence of necessary to attract pilots from abroad due to the presence of local professional pilots.

"I think the Russians feel that Iran is too arrogant in its conduct vis-a-vis Russia, while Russia had tried in the past to help Iran in the international arena. They probably feel that the Iranians are ungrateful, and this may partially explain their conduct," said Litvak.

According to Iranian expert on international affairs Hasan Behishtipur, Medvedev has expressed such an idea for two reasons: firstly, because now that Iran is attempting to enrich uranium independently to provide fuel for its own reactors, and Russia could lose one of its customers.

The second reason is Moscow's desire for further rapprochement with Washington, holding a desired position for it, Iranian expert said.

"Russia is moving closer to the U.S by making such statements, occupying a position which is close to Washington," Behishtipur told Trend over the telephone. "I think that such statements are a continuation of anti-Iranian propaganda policies of Israel and the U.S., which they are pursuing for the past few years."

Behishtipur believes Medvedev's viewpoint is reasonable, because the IAEA stated on the monitoring of Iranian nuclear facilities for more than 4,000 hours in their own reports, which also says that Iran has always fulfilled obligations take before the IAEA.

The IAEA has been preparing reports since 2003, when the first suspicious about the military orientation of the Iranian nuclear program arose.

In these documents, the IAEA inspectors show the results of their inspections on nuclear facilities of Iran and draw conclusions about how Iran is actively cooperating with the IAEA if it violates provisions of the NPT and paragraphs of the UN Security Council resolutions on Iran.

The last-30th report published in February 2010 differed from previous ones on its severity and rigidity. It clearly states on Iran's possibility for developing nuclear weapons. In particular, the document notes that the Agency's data causes serious concern.

T.Jafarov contributed to the article.

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