Wednesday, July 12, 2006

US Pays Off Russia For Iran?

According to the New York Times, Washington is about to broker a deal with Moscow on Russian storage of US nuclear waste. In exchange, the White House expects the Kremlin to support its stance towards Iran on potential nuclear weapons' development. Thus, the US would bribe Russia to turn a blind eye on Washington's Iran policy.

The real issue at stake is, of course, Iran's plans to develop its nuclear capabilties. The Bush administration claims that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, whereas Teheran argues that it is only exercising its right to develop nuclear energy. During the last year, this issue has become so heated that it on several occasions has become a concern for the UN Security Council. Therefore, as new of US-Russian negotiations on a bilateral nuclear deal broke last Saturday, speculations peaked how this would affect Iran.

So, why is Iran's nuclear affairs of concern to Moscow? Except Russia's seat on the Security Council and strategic concerns, the great reason is that Russia is Iran's biggest supplier of fuel, equipment, and expertise to the country's nuclear programme. As previously reported, Russia's nuclear industry is one of the few technically advanced sectors where Russia can still compete for shares on the international market with other technically developed states. The steady flow of incomes from nuclear supplies to Iran has been an indispensable and reliable factor for the survival of Russia's atomic sector.

If the prospects of a Russian-American nuclear deal would prove much more lucrative and stable to Moscow than continuing nuclear supplies to Iran, the US might stand a chance of turning Russia's position on Iran. This would be to pay off the Russians. However, it ignores that competing interests in Russia might complicate Moscow's ability to keep to such a deal. Still, the US has obviously been very ingenious in elaborating its proposal based on the fundamental paradigm of contempoary Russian society: When money talks - politics is silent.

By the way, today the UN "permanent five" - USA, Great Britain, France, China, and Russia - declared that they had agreed to bring Iran's nuclear programme before the UN Security Council.

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