Russia's Nuclear Commitment to Iran
- No country, including the US will force Russia to abandon its nuclear
commitment to Iran
Moscow Takes Tougher Stance On Iran Nuclear Issue
By Claire Bigg
Wednesday, October 19 2005
No country, including the United States, will force Russia to abandon
its nuclear commitment to Iran, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
declared yesterday. The uncompromising statement came one day after
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice failed to win Russian support
for taking Iran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
Moscow, 17 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Speaking on Russian television,
Lavrov said Iran had the same right as other countries to develop what
he called "peaceful nuclear energy" and reaffirmed Moscow's intention
to continue helping Iran build a nuclear reactor near its gulf port
city of Bushehr.
"No one," Lavrov added, "including the United States, will challenge
our right to continue building the atomic electricity station in Bushehr."
Lavrov was merely reiterating Russia's position on Iran's disputed
nuclear program, which the West fears could be aimed at producing
But his tone struck many as unusually sharp, particularly against the
backdrop of Rice's surprise visit to Moscow on 15 October.
Rice flew to Moscow to press Russian President Vladimir Putin to back
Washington's attempts to haul Iran before the UN Security Council if
it refuses to return to diplomatic talks over its nuclear program.
Putin, however, remained unswayed, saying the issue needed to be
solved within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Yevgenii Volk, the director of Moscow's Hermitage Foundation, said
Lavrov's televised statements indicated a firmer Russian position.
"No such tough comment [on Iran] has been made in the past," Volk
said. "This is definitely a hardening of Russia's stance, a clear
signal to the U.S. that there can be no agreement on this issue today
and that Russia intends to continue its atomic cooperation with Iran.
In my opinion, this is a very serious moment in [U.S.- Russia]
Volk said Iran's nuclear program has become the main bone of
contention between the United States and Russia, and predicted this
issue will seriously sour both countries' relations in the future.
"The Russia-U.S. relations concerning the Iranian issue are not
improving, they are, on the contrary, worsening," Volk said. "In the
future, this will seriously complicate other problems that now exist
in bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington."
Some other analysts agree that Moscow looks set to continue resisting
any Western efforts to refer the Iran nuclear crisis to the UN
Ruslan Pukhov, a defense analyst who heads the Center for Analysis of
Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, said the protracted war in Iraq
has weakened the United States in the eyes of Russia and emboldened
Moscow to adopt a firmer tone on Iran.
"Maybe Russia can afford to express its dissatisfaction and its
disagreement in a tougher manner because it understands in what
difficult situation the U.S. now finds itself regarding the war in
Iraq," Pukhov said.
Meanwhile, Russia today rejected a report published in the "Sunday
Telegraph" on 16 October that former Russian military members helped
Iran obtain ballistic-missile technology.
The report, which does not cite the sources of that information,
claims Russia acted as a mediator between Iran and North Korea
according to a deal they clinched in 2003.
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