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Iran's Nuclear Hand

Since taking office as President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made some bold moves accompanied by even bolder rhetoric, especially regarding Iran’s nuclear program. It appears that even Russia is beginning to tire of Iran’s bold new president. It appears that a frustrated Russia is shifting to the American/European position on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The effects of a swaying Russia, builders of several of Iran’s nuclear reactors and currently under contract with Tehran, would be profound in the international arena.

But increasing frustration in Moscow could swing the Russians closer to the U.S.-European position and indirectly pressure Beijing to also join the mainstream and moderate its opposition to Security Council action, one diplomat said. He, like others talking to The Associated Press, demanded anonymity in exchange for divulging confidential information.
Russia has played an increasingly important role in getting Iran back to negotiations meant to pressure Tehran to compromise on its plans for uranium enrichment. The Americans and Europeans recently agreed to give up their demand that Iran renounce enrichment and related activities and endorsed a plan that would allow Iran to convert uranium but move the enrichment process to Russia. [Emphasis added]

It is surely no coincidence that the news of Russia’s new-found displeasure with their largest nuclear contracting agent comes alongside a visit by President Bush with leaders of both Russia and China at the APEC Summit in South Korea. Russia coming on board (and surely not without unrelated diplomatic ‘sweetners’) puts pressure on China to go it alone in any veto of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran for non-compliance with the IAEA. China may not be willing to go that route.

Feedback

I have trouble believing that Russia ever considered that a nuclear Iran was not a serious threat to Russia. Those diplomatic "sweetners" may have been Russia's angle all along.

Should this be anything new, really? Hasn't Russia always been interested in Iran? Didn't Britain go to war against Russia once over Iran in the 1800's?

I think Russia has long considered Iran to be a part of their sphere of influence, especially wrt their historical quest for warm-water ports. But I think Putin is playing a larger game here, using Iran as a lever to extract geopolitical concessions from the US.