News / Middle East

Kremlin Walks a High Wire on Iran's Nuclear Program

TEXT SIZE - +

Russia built for Iran its first nuclear power plant, then refused to sell to Tehran the anti-aircraft missiles to defend it.

A high-ranking Russian told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that it “remains unproven” that there is a military component to Iran’s nuclear program.

On the other hand, he added, Tehran’s decision to enrich uranium violates international resolutions designed to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

As tensions rise between the West and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program, Russia is trying to play a highwire balancing act.

Pyotr Topychkanov studies nuclear non-proliferation for Carnegie Moscow Center. “Russia does not want Iran with a nuclear weapon,” said Topychkanov.

He said a nuclear-armed Iran would start a regional arms race, starting with the Sunni Muslim Gulf monarchies that ship their oil to the outside world through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran, a Shi'ite Muslim nation, has threatened to close the strait, if pushed too hard on the nuclear issue.

Closer to home, the Kremlin worries that if Iran gets a nuclear bomb, Russia’s historic southern rival, Turkey, will race to get its own nuclear weapon.

Evgeny Satanovsky runs the Near East Institute in Moscow. He speaks of Russia’s new worry about Turkey and its increasingly aggressive prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“We have in Turkey the new Ottoman Empire. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a man with a very dangerous ambition, and he looks at himself a new Ottoman Sultan,” he said.

Satanovsky says good relations with Turkey and Iran are essential for keeping the peace in Russia’s Muslim south. A century ago, the inhabitants of Russia’s Southern Caucasus were called “mountain Turks.” Today, they still resent rule by Moscow. In Dagestan, a low-level insurgency take lives almost daily.

Satanovsky worries that an angry Iran would strike back at Moscow by bankrolling Muslim extremist groups in Russia’s Caucasus.

“Don’t touch them too aggressively, because they can destabilize the Northern Caucasus, the Russian Dagestan or some other territories for a few months," he said.

Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia’s Security Council, told Interfax last week that Washington is plotting regime change in Iran.

Satanovsky believes that a civil war in Iran would force up to three million people to take refuge in Russia and Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic.

Historically, when Russia’s power and population was growing, the Kremlin repeatedly sent troops into Northern Iran. From the 1880s to the end of World War II, northern Iran was either occupied by Russian troops or considered a zone of Russian control.

Today, Russia’s population is aging and shrinking. Its military might is a shadow of its Soviet strength.

Topychanov at Carnegie says Russia is less a player and more a bystander in events to its south. “After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia does not have the resources to play an active role even in this region,” he said.

After losing the czarist and Soviet ability to project power, the Kremlin now opposes interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

As the world watches growing tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, Russia’s battles in connection with Iran are expected - this time - to be entirely diplomatic.


James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid