Can Russia be trusted in its negotiations with Iran?
As Iran is being referred to the UN Security Council, a number of countries, including the US and Europe, have expressed hope that a Russian-led negotiation with Iran would break the current deadlock and provide a viable solution.
In order to defuse the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program, Russia has offered to enrich uranium in Russian territory and ship it to Iran for nuclear energy usage. While this proposal sounds good on paper, and may be the best alternative for Iran in order to avoid sanctions, letting Russia be both the broker and the main counterpart in this deal may prove to be a very dangerous choice.
It’s clear that the world is not ready to confront Iran and would rather find a peaceful resolution to the current crisis. For that reason, the EU-3 (Britain, France and Germany) had been unsuccessfully trying for the past few years to negotiate with Iran. While a peaceful resolution would be welcome, we should not place our hopes in a Russian-backed deal, as Russia may not be the honest and fair broker that we need.
As a matter of fact, Russia has unfortunately provided tremendous (and very lucrative) help to Iran in its nuclear and missile projects. Let’s not forget that Russia:
- Built the nuclear power plant at Bushehr, one of the most worrisome components of Iran’s nuclear program.
- Recently sold $1 billion worth of highly sophisticated arms and military equipment to Iran, including surface-to-air missile systems, and has provided missile know-how and expertise.
In addition, many in Moscow's political and military circles have been advocating strong ties with Iran in order to protect the ailing and cash-strapped Russian defense industry, to provide a counter-balance to a perceived anti-Russian US foreign policy and to re-establish Russia's strategic importance in world affairs.
With that in mind, how can we trust Russia to be a fair and honest partner that would strike and implement a deal to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful? And as we deal with a country such as Iran, that has openly expressed its destructive goals, persecuted its own minorities, sponsored multiple acts of terrorism that have claimed the lives of thousand of people, shall we not be careful in choosing the partner that would safeguard our interests? Given Iran’s lack of real need for nuclear energy, and its long history of deception regarding its nuclear program, this is not a choice that we should lightly take.