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By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 18, 2007


President Vladimir Putin of Russia was in Iran. The ostensible reason for this meeting cum summit between Russia and Iran was to make an attempt at ratcheting down rapidly rising Western tension over Iran's nuclear aspirations and nuclear development. At least, that's the way the meeting was presented before Putin's arrival in Teheran.

Once the Russian leader was actually in Iran, meeting with Iranian leaders and making public statements, a different agenda emerged. It immediately became evident that both the Russians and the Iranians were pleased with the way in which their relationship is progressing and the deals they are making. Watch out world. When Russia and Iran pose for the camera and smile it is a signal for the rest of us to worry.

In an interview with Iranian national television Putin declared that Russia would stand by its commitment to Iran and complete construction on the Iranian nuclear reactor at Busher. Putin explained away the many delays and work stoppages on the construction project by saying the obstacles were the result only of "legal and technological problems" and of faulty equipment provided to the Iranians by Germany.

And in an interview with Russia's RIA news agency Iranian leader Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying: "Iran is ready to cooperate with Russia in building the second and third units at Busher."

What Putin and Ahmadinejad are really saying is that political pressure, meaning pressure applied on Russia by the United States to halt construction of the plant, had no effect whatsoever. No effect on Russia and no effect on Iran. It is as if they are saying "Ha, ha, America and your Western allies, so there. We will continue to do what we want, however we want to do it."

That wasn't enough. Russia and Iran felt the need to publicly ridicule the United States even more. Putin also met with The Supreme Leader of Iran the Ayatollah Khamenei. That meeting, too, was successful. And in the course of their meeting, as was publicly recorded, the Ayatollah told Putin that "the interest of Russia lies in a powerful and influential Iran." And then the Ayatollah continued to underscore that Iran rejects anyone who stands up to them. Once again, anyone, in this case, refers expressly to the United States.

So far, in this visit, there was a promise to work on a nuclear plant, a not-so-veiled threat against the United States. Then came a move to dramatically improve Iran's conventional, military weaponry.

The Russian daily Kommersant, an economic paper akin to the Wall Street Journal, carried a story saying that before leaving Teheran Putin would close on a $150 million deal for Iran to buy fifty RD-33 turbo-thrust engines from the Russians.

Certainly, the Russian-made engines would be a significant upgrade to Iran's fighter jet situation as it now exists. But right now, that's not the point. Iran now uses a fighter jet called the Azarakhsh. The Azarakhsh, which translates to mean "lightening" in Persian, is totally Iranian-made and designed. Having a Russian-made engine will be a huge improvement. The Iranians created this aircraft in 1997 by reverse engineering the US F-4, F-5 and F-14 fighter jets. One of Iran's biggest gripes is that they cannot get spare parts for the US airplanes because the US will not sell spare parts to Iran. Continuing to use their own plane and equipping it with an engine from Russia is an end around the real problem.

Russia makes believe that they are cognizant of the dangers they are sponsoring by sprucing up Iran's military machine, but they are empty words. Russia claims that they demand that papers be signed pledging that the weapons will not be used as offense but only as defensive tools and that they not be used as weapons of terror. But look who is signing. Syria signed a Russian document and then turned around and sent the weapons off to Hezbollah.

Russia has not surprised anyone during this meeting. Russia is an Iranian advocate. Putin made that very clear only last week in a meeting with French President Sarkozy. The French and Russian leaders had a public disagreement over Iran's intentions and objectives. Putin came to the defense of Iran saying, in essence, that we do not know Iran's objectives and until we know that Iran aspires to develop nuclear weapons we cannot assume that they will.

For Russia it is a win-win-win situation.
Win # 1: Russia is a sponsor of the Iranian nuclear plants.
Win # 2: Russia has very little it can export other than technology and weapons and for those items, Iran is the perfect client. Iran has the money and Iran has the need.
Win # 3: Russia does not care about anything other than Russia’s own bottom line.

For Russia, winning is what it's all about.

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4 June 2017 12:14 PM in Columns

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