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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why Russia will never back sanctions against Iran

Ilan Berman explains that the ties between Russia and Iran are so deep that there is no chance that Russia will back serious sanctions against Iran.
[D]espite increasingly clear signs of Iran's runaway nuclear ambitions, the Kremlin remains opposed to the very idea of comprehensive sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Here's why.

First, Iran's nuclear ambitions are a cash cow for the Kremlin. In the years after 9/11, Russia's vast energy sector and the high world price of oil helped fuel its geopolitical revival. Since the onset of the global financial crisis, however, Russia's economic fortunes have experienced a devastating reversal of fortune. Last year Russian GDP plummeted nearly 8%, driven downward by a 77% decline in world energy prices.

Perpetuating the current crisis over Iran's nuclear program therefore makes good business sense. As one energy expert explained recently in the Moscow Times:

"Assuming the Iranian situation influences the oil price upward by a conservative estimate of roughly $3 or $4 a year, Russia stands to gain $6 billion to $8 billion, not to mention any benefits to the price of natural gas and the maintenance of its gas supply monopoly to Europe. A thaw between Iran and the West stands to increase the downward pressure on the price of oil, in addition to any lost revenue if Iran becomes a significant gas supplier to Europe. Given this calculation, Russia's position regarding sanctions seems much more logical."

Russia's nuclear trade has benefited considerably from the current crisis as well. Since 2003, when Iran's nuclear program was first disclosed, the greater Middle East has seen an explosion of interest in the atom. Today no fewer than 14 countries in Iran's neighborhood have openly begun to pursue some level of nuclear capability. And Russia, the world's leading exporter of nuclear technology, has reaped the benefits. Over the past five years Moscow has inked nuclear cooperation deals with Algeria, Egypt and Jordan. Even Libya, which ostensibly gave up its atomic ambitions during the Bush administration, now appears to be resuming its investments in nuclear technology--and is doing so with the assistance of Russian industry.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary, however, has been Russia's arms sector. Two decades ago the breakup of the Soviet Union left Russia's defense industry on the verge of collapse. Today Russia's military trade with the world is vast--and booming. This turnaround has a great deal to do with regional jitters over Iran's nuclear program. According to the Stockholm International Peace Institute, arms sales to the Middle East rose by nearly 40% between 2004 and 2008, with Iran's neighbors among the most active clients. Hoping to capitalize on this trend, Russia's arms industry is now said to be in the throes of a major expansion in the Middle East. All in all, in other words, Iran's nuclear program has proved a boon for Russian business.

These commercial instincts have only been reinforced by Russian views of political change in Iran. Simply put, officials in Moscow see the possibility of a change of regime--or even of governmental behavior--as a serious threat to their interests.
Read it all. Berman suggests that if the Obami want to get Russia to go along with sanctions against Iran, they must first break the ties between Russia and Iran. It's far too late for that. Either we very quickly implement biting sanctions against Iran without Russia and probably without the UN, or we skip the sanctions altogether and go the military route (which we will have to do sooner or later anyway). There is no other way that Iran can be stopped.


At 1:48 PM, Blogger Alexander Maccabee said...

I wonder if Israel considers doing business with Russia instead of the US since Obama has violated our agreed upon deals... withholding weapons which had been almost shipped, and arming the Saudis. It has been said "the Israelis know more about Russian military equipment than the Russians do."

Perhaps this is the reason Russia does not want to sell the S-300 to Israel's enemies.

"If Russia goes through with the sale of its most advanced anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, Israel will use an electronic warfare device now under development to neutralize it and as a result present Russia as vulnerable to air infiltrations, a top defense official has told The Jerusalem Post."

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May the history of the the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact revisit mother Russia - only 10 times worse.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Chrysler 300M said...

A´djad has to be eliminated and all Iranian troubles are over

am yisrael chai


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