Posts Tagged ‘Russia’
It would follow that if a peaceful solution to the Syria crisis is to be found, all sides have to be involved, including Iran. But Iran has been totally excluded from the talks. One has to ask why.
My latest article answers this question.
Can the Bushehr power plant advance Iran’s plans to make a nuclear bomb?
How should Israel and the west view this new development?
And why is John Bolton so worried about Bushehr?
Ayatollah Khamenei seems to be moving away from Moscow, and towards Ankara. This strategy has its merits, but it won’t be without its own challenges.
When it comes to Iran, Moscow should review its options with much care.
The analysis below looks at Iran’s recent move to bring Russia into OPEC and its consequences for the US and Ahmadinejad’s election.
To read click below
By Meir Javedanfar
When Iran completed a successful test run of its nuclear power station in the city of Bushehr on February 25, it raised the level of concern in some Western countries, particularly in Israel. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert even went as far as issuing a threat, which many believe was directed at Iran: “We are a strong country, a very strong country, and we have at our disposal [military] capacities, the intensity of which are difficult to imagine,” Olmert told public radio.
Technically, Bushehr is not a real danger to Israel. In fact, it is no danger at all. Bushehr is a nuclear power plant just like any other. None of the nuclear fuel it will use will come from Iran. It will all be supplied by Russia. Furthermore, all the spent fuel, some of which can be used for weapons purposes, will be taken away by Russia. The Russian government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will count every drop of nuclear fuel entering and leaving Iran. Therefore Iran cannot use any of the equipment at Bushehr for its military nuclear program.
By raising such a hue and cry over Bushehr, the Israeli government is distracting the world’s attention from the real danger: the Iranian uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. That is where the danger lies and that is where the U.S. and Israel need to focus their attention. By crying “foul” every time Iran embarks on any nuclear activity, no matter how harmless (such as the case in Bushehr), both Israel and the U.S. could damage their credibility. They could also wear out the patience of the international community. After America’s inability to find WMDs in Iraq, Israel will have to be very careful how it portrays the Iranian threat. Overdoing it could damage its legitimate claims, and could turn it in to the boy who cried wolf too many times.
If Israel wants to legitimately direct its anger, it should be towards Moscow. It is the Russian government that has been hampering international efforts to impose tough sanctions against the Iranian government and its illegal enrichment activities in Natanz. For years, Moscow used its contract with the Iranians for Bushehr as leverage, in order to pressure Iran to not antagonize the West. Moscow used every excuse, and in some cases outright lies, to drag its feet over the completion of Bushehr. The Russians even went as far as citing lack of funds from Iran as an excuse. In reality, everyone knows that the Iranians had paid. However, Tehran couldn’t do much. It was dependent on Russia for this power plant, and all it could do was sit and watch the scheduled date for the completion of the plant slip by 10 years.
However, now that Russia has agreed to complete the contract, Moscow and the West have lost an important leveraging mechanism over Tehran. It will now be even more difficult to pressure Iran to halt its enrichment activities at Natanz. The only danger Bushehr poses is a political one. And this will boost Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s position greatly. As presidential elections near, he could say that under his presidency, Natanz expanded and the West could not do much about it. This will come at a great time for the Iranian president. With the economy’s performance worsening every year, advances in the nuclear program will be a useful distraction.
One important question to ask is: why did Russia go ahead and complete Bushehr? Why now? These days, the Russian economy is suffering greatly, due to the falling price of oil. Furthermore, its once powerful weapons industry is facing ruin. According to a recent Reuters report, “One third of Russia’s weapons makers are on the verge of bankruptcy.” Iran is a very important market, and the Russians know that Iran could soon be negotiating with the U.S. Should Iran and the West mend fences and improve their relations, the Iranians could take revenge over Russia’s feet dragging in Bushehr by signing massive economic deals with the West. This could be a major blow to Russia’s economy and is probably why Russia decided to improve its relations with Tehran now rather than after the negotiations between Iran and the U.S., as it could be too late by then.
In the bid to garner international support for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, the loss of Russian support could have a negative impact. However, this is the new reality that President Obama has to deal with. This is not the first warning shot by Moscow. The recent closure of the U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan was seen as a Moscow-backed effort against Washington which will impact U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. It won’t be the last either. More than ever, the EU and the U.S. will have to apply their credibility and economic power to withstand the competition from Moscow.
This article originally appeared in PJM Media.
By: Meir Javedanfar
This morning I was interviewed by BBC Persian about the recent Israeli response to reports that Russia may be about to sell advanced S-300 air defense missiles to Iran. The interviewer, asked a very valid question: “These weapons are for defensive purposes only. They can not be used to attack Israel. So why is Jerusalem against their sale?”.
This is a valid point and a very fair question to ask. Iranians have every right to know why a foreign government opposes the sale of a weapons system, which is to be used for the defense of their country.
One of Israel’s concerns is that the system would make it much more dangerous for Jerusalem to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, if it decides to. Although the prospect of a military strike is the last and worst option, its still an important tool in the carrots and sticks package which is being offered to Iran. What must be noted however, that this is a long term problem.
The more immediate problem presented by the sale of the S-300 is that it could boost the confidence of Ayatollah Khamenei to the point that he will not take negotiations with the EU, and more importantly with the US seriously. For Israel, the best outcome is if Obama solves the nuclear crisis through negotiations. But if Ayatollah Khamenei knows that there is little which Obama and Israel can do economically, and now militarily thanks to the missiles, then he will be less inclined to take up Obama’s offer for talks, and to reciprocate American gestures. And this would make pre and post nuclear Iran, a much more difficult country to deal with, not just for Israel, but for the Western world.
In Iran, we used to see Russia as a bigger enemy than the US, because over the centuries, Moscow has been responsible for so many land grabs which have cut the size of Iranian territory by thousands of kilometres. Today, some Iranians can be forgiven for thinking that Russia wants to sell these missiles to Ayatollah Khamenei’s government, precisely because it does not want US – Iran talks to succeed. Because if they do, it could come at a cost to Russia’s influence over Iran. An influence, which many Iranians find unfair, and harmful.
By: Meir Javedanfar
The report today in Haaretz that Russia is seeking to purchase Israeli-made spy planes is a surprise, to say the least.
It shows how times have changed. Russia, the successor to the mighty USSR for years supplied weapons to Israel’s enemies. It now wants to purchase Israeli weapons.
According to the report, the Russians were impressed by the performance of the Israeli UAVs during the recent Georgian conflict.
The sale of the UAVs will boost the reputation of Israel’s aeronautical industry.
However, there is one area which should not be overlooked.
Russia is considering the sale of S-300 missiles to Iran.
One possibility that Israel will have to take into consideration is that the Russians may reverse engineer the UAVs. And who knows, maybe in a number of years, they will sell their own Israeli copied UAVs to Iran or Syria.
This sale also offers an opportunity. Israel wants to improve its bargaining position with Russia, because Moscow is an important player in the dispute surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. Furthermore, as a member of the Quartet, Russia is an important party in the Israeli – Palestinian peace talks, while its good relations with Damascus add to its influence in the negotiations between Israel and Syria. Last but not least, the recent dispute with Washington, and Russia’s stationing of missiles in Kaliningrad, have added more weight to Russia’s strategic standing.
The sale of UAVs will not be a game changer. But it will most probably provide the Israeli point of view with more sympathy and allies in Moscow, than before. This will be a welcomed change as Israel has until today had very little lobbying power in the Kremlin.