“Persian Dreams” book talk
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Most Russians distrusts Iran’s nuclear program – expert
Washington, 21 January (IranVNC)—The dominant view in Russia is that Iran’s nuclear program cannot be trusted, and there is fear over the unknown consequences of an Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, said John Parker, during a talk today in Washington about his new book on relations between Russia and Iran in the past 30 years.
“In the view of those who distrust the Islamic Republic, and this is the dominant view in Moscow, no one can predict the consequences of total change in the balance of forces in the Middle East were Iran to master the production of weapons of mass destruction, and the means of delivering them,” said Parker, during a talk about his new book: “Persian Dreams: Moscow and Tehran since the Fall of the Shah.”
Parker, who was speaking at an event sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, is currently chief of the Office for Russian and Eurasian Analysis at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The opinions he expressed during the talk represented his views only and not those of the US government.
Based on more than nine years of research and interviews, the book covers a range of issues concerning relations between the two nations since the late Mohammad Reza Shah was removed from power. Among the topics covered are how the Soviet Union came to terms with the Islamic Republic in 1979, how Iran dealt with the Soviet collapse more than a decade later, the struggle over resources in the Caspian Sea, the civil war in Tajikistan and subsequent peace process, the Chechen War, and relations with Afghanistan.
However, Parker said it is what he called Iran’s military nuclear program that has attracted the most interest in analyzing Russia-Iran bilateral relations.
“In my mind there is no doubt that Tehran has been pursuing such a military [nuclear] program since the 1980s,” Parker said. He justified his comment by noting what he called were “explicit” remarks made in 1988 by former Majlis [Parliament] speaker, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and former Iranian Revolution Guards Corps [IRGC] Commander Mohsen Rezai, that Iran’s “goal was a nuclear weapon, not a civilian nuclear power program.”
Parker continued by saying that the assessment of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service [SVR] in 1993 was that Iran had a nuclear research program with military application, but that Moscow “politely tiptoed around the issue” in its public comments until 2002, when revelations about Iran’s uranium enrichment program was publically disclosed.
Since then, Parker said, there has been debate within Russia over its arms sales to Iran and the objective of its relations with Iran.
In the post Soviet period: “Some in Moscow have argued and still argue that the West wants to dominate Russia and that Russia should therefore maintain an informal alliance with Iran, but that line has been opposed by those who warn that the Iranian regime will never dance to Russia’s tune,” Parker said.
Under Russia’s former president Vladimir Putin, Russia used a mixture of engagement and pressure to encourage Iran to restrain its nuclear program, including slowing down the construction of the nuclear reactor in Bushehr by Russian engineers, delaying negotiations over the return of spent fuel agreement, and supporting International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] statements and United Nations Security Council resolutions critical of Iran.
Parker’s assessment is that this Russian pressure seemed to work during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, when Iran publically suspended its nuclear enrichment program in 2003 and secretly suspended its weaponization efforts in that same year, according to the US National Intelligence Estimate [NIE] published in 2007.
But since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected Iran’s President in 2005, international pressure and Russian tactics, including an offer to enrich uranium on Russian soil, have failed to yield similar results.
“As a result Tehran, during the Ahmadinejad years, has been more successful in using Moscow to shield Iran’s military nuclear program than Moscow has been in using its leverage and contacts with Tehran to restrain this program,” said Parker.
He summarized Iran-Russia relations since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 by quoting Aleksei Malashenko, an expert from the Moscow Carnegie Center: “For Russia, cooperation with Iran is a strategy, while for Iran engagement with Russia is just a tactic.”
Source: IranVNC correspondent
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