Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi started his official visit to Russia on April 4. The leader of the Iranian Foreign Minister was accorded a hearty welcome to in Moscow. This detail should be particularly stressed, since Iran is a part of the “axis of evil,” almost its key link.
The cooperation between Russia and Iran is based on several fundamental points: the construction of the nuclear power plant in the Iranian city of Bushehr, the deliveries of the Russian arms, and the development of the crude and gas deposits.
According to the official version, the main goal of the foreign minister’s visit is to consider the process of realization of agreements, which were achieved at the summit between Russia and Iran in March of 2001 in Moscow, to continue the dialogue with Tehran on the wide range of bilateral, regional, and international issues. RIA Novosti informed, the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko emphasized Russia’s satisfaction with the fact that Moscow’s and Tehran’s positions were either close or similar on a large number of the world politics issues.
However, it should be mentioned that the cooperation between Russia and Iran has become a reason for the USA’s concern. In 1998 the White House published the list, in which there were several Russian companies mentioned that collaborated with Iran in the field of nuclear power. Glavkosmos, Research Institute Grafit, the Baltic State Technical University, and others were on that list. The sanctions against those organizations are still in effect. Washington was especially indignant about the fact that Russia allegedly infringed upon the agreement of 1995. Pursuant to that document, Russia announced that the projects on cooperation with Iran in the field of arms deliveries, would be frozen. The Russian administration was hoping to reimburse the financial losses owing to the increase of the trade with the United States. This was actually promised by Clinton’s administration back in those days, but nothing like that was meant to happen. As a result, Russia's losses from the unrealized joint projections with Iran made up some two billion dollars. Moscow notified Washington in November of 2000 about the refusal to fulfil the agreement of 1995, since it explicitly contradicted to Russia's interests.
The new incentive was given to the cooperation with Iran after that. The Russian specialists participate in the works on the construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr. The issues of the arms deliveries were also discussed during the visit of the Iranian foreign minister. Moscow confirmed earlier that it would execute all the obligations as far as that issue was concerned. Furthermore, Tehran evinced its great interest in the Russian anti-missile defense systems. In any case, the representatives of Iran have already visited the enterprises of the military and industrial complex of Russia, which produced those systems.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that there is total mutual understanding in the relations between Russia and Iran. The status of the Caspian Sea is still the stumbling block in this respect. Iran is standing for its viewpoint: the joint ownership principle should be preserved, pursuant to which both the sea floor and the water area of the Caspian Sea must be equally divided, not on the extension of the coastline, as Russia and the republic of Azerbaijan wish. If Tehran agrees with the Russian point of view on the issue, then the majority of the deposits in South Caspian area will be given to Azerbaijan, and this is absolutely not good for Iran. Taking into consideration the fact that the US army is likely to come to Azerbaijan to protect Baku’s interests (Azerbaijan's capital) in the dispute with Tehran.
Kamal Kharazi is to have a meeting with President Putin on April 5. As it is expected, the meeting will touch upon the issues of anti-terrorism struggle, the regional security and disarmament. Iran could play a big role in the regulation of Arab-Israeli conflict, since Hizbollah group in Lebanon is oriented on Iran, attacking Israel periodically. The Caspian issue will probably be discussed too, especially in light of the coming summit of five Caspian countries.
Extending the cooperation between Russia and Iran is good not only for these two countries, but also for the whole world community. The more Tehran participates in different international projects, the more open this state will be getting, and its policy will get more predictable too. Washington created big regional security problems, after announcing this state as an enemy, instead of creating problems for Iran itself. George Bush and Vladimir Putin will most likely talk about the Iranian issue during their meeting in May, although America will hardly gain any concessions from Russia in this respect. These concessions are not in Russia’s interests now, especially financially. A lot can be lost, and nothing received.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov