Tracker

Russia-Iran Foreign Relations

August 2, 2010
Flag of Russia (Available at Wikimedia Commons) 
 
Reaction to June 2009 Iranian Presidential Election:

In June, 2009, during a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Russian government spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, stated that "the heads of SCO member states congratulated Ahmadinejad on his re-election" in the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov characterized the Iranian elections as an "internal affair" and stated that "we welcome the fact that elections took place, we welcome the ... [Iranian] president on Russian soil and see it as symbolic that he made his first visit to Russia. This allows hope for progress in bilateral relations."[1]

 

Nuclear:

Russia has voted in favor of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program but has also helped Iran build its nuclear facilities in Bushehr. Russia first began voting in favor of UNSC sanctions in 2006 after arguing against bringing the issue to the UNSC in 2005.[2]  In June 2009, French President Nicolas Sarkozy represented the P5+1 (the permanent 5 members of the UNSC plus Germany) in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to encourage Iran to resume diplomatic negotiations, talks that are contingent upon Iran suspending its nuclear enrichment for the duration.  Iran has so far refused to suspend enrichment, however. [3]

Despite voting in favor of UNSC resolutions in 2006, 2007, and 2008, Russia blocked further punitive action against Iran in September 2008 - even after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) condemned the Islamic Republic’s lack of cooperation.[4] Russia also refused to participate in a P5+1[5] meeting in 2008 to discuss leveling additional sanctions against Iran.[6] Russia has publicly supported Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear technology and has helped supply the materials and expertise to build the Bushehr nuclear plant, which Iran has claimed it will complete in 2009. [7]  

Russia has also warned the United States against taking any military action against Iran or its nuclear facilities, and has criticized the U.S. for its imposition of sanctions against a Russian state-owned defense contractor October 2008 that had reportedly sold dual-use military technology to Iran.[8] The United States presidential administrations of both former President George Bush and current President Barak Obama have encouraged Russia to put pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment and cooperate with the IAEA.[9] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev claimed in March 2009 that he would cooperate with Obama on the Iranian nuclear issue, yet in February 2009 Russia also discussed negotiating a 10-year fuel supply deal with Iran to fuel the Bushehr nuclear power plant.[10] In an interview with Italian media in July 2009, President Medvedev expressed his view that problems associated with Iran’s nuclear program are significantly different from those caused by North Korea’s program. According to the Russian president, Iran’s program is less disconcerting than North Korea’s “because, whereas Iran is communicating with international community, North Korea has now virtually cut all of its contacts."[11] Echoing Medvedev’s views, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko stated in July 2009 that it is "much better to cooperate with Iran in construction of nuclear power plants” in order to ensure the transparency of Iran’s nuclear program. Shmatko went on to say that Iran’s nuclear energy sector represented a "significant market" for Russia.[12] Iran seems to be seeking an alternative to its Russian suppliers, however. In July 2009, the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran took measures to encourage domestic production of nuclear related equipment. The organization’s head, Ahmad Qalebani, indicated that as much as 60 percent of needed equipment can be manufactured without foreign help.[13]

In a July 2009 meeting between Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Deputy Director Mohammad Saeedi and Russian Federal Atomic Agency Head Sergei Kiriyenko, Iran urged Russia to expedite the completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. In the same July 2009 meeting, the two sides agreed that the plant would become operational by mid-summer 2009 and discussed future plans for nuclear cooperation.[14] Despite this earlier agreement, the head of the AEOI, Ali-Akbar Salehi, announced on July 28, 2009, that the plant would not come online until the end of September 2009. Salehi added that the September launch date would permit the plant to reach full capacity by March 2010.[15]

At the September 2009 United Nations gathering, Russia and China agreed to support Obama in putting the UN on record against the spread of nuclear weapons. This statement did not specifically mention Iran or North Korea, however, and did not define any direct action against the spread of nuclear weapons.[16] At the meeting, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution laying out military and diplomatic safeguards against the use of civilian nuclear programs for military purposes.  The resolution states that nations supplying nuclear material have the legal right to require the return of material if recipient countries withdraw from or do not comply with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.[17]  At the September UN meeting, Ahmadinejad said that Iran is willing to buy nuclear fissile material from the US and expressed readiness to allow nuclear experts to meet with international scientists.[18]

At the UN meeting, Russia also stated that it would back more extensive sanctions if Iran did not abide by its Non-Proliferation Treaty duties by the October 1, 2009 meeting with the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany.  Medvedev stated that while “sanctions are seldom productive, they are sometimes inevitable.”  Despite this announcement, Foreign Policy Aide Sergei Prikhodko announced later that same month that “sanctions against Iran are highly unlikely in the near future,” reiterating Medvedev’s statement from the October 1 meeting.[19] At the end of October 2009, United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton held talks in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a bid to press Russia to support greater international efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program. Clinton proposed that Iran ship its uranium to Russia for enrichment.[20]

In October 2009, the US, France and Russia struck a multilateral nuclear fuel deal with Iran stipulating that Iran would export more than 1,200kg of its 3.5 per cent low-enriched uranium to Russia for refining to 20 per cent purity to fuel a Tehran reactor which makes medical isotopes. France would then turn it into fuel rods. The fissile material would be in a form that would be difficult to turn into weapons-grade uranium.[21] In late October, Tehran claimed the deal needed further negotiations and demanded changes to the deal hinting that they only wanted to export the fuel in small batches while simultaneously importing higher-grade fuel.[22] This is in clear contradiction to the fuel deal between France, Russia, the US and Iran. Further, this uranium deal was agreed in principle at talks in Geneva on October 1, 2009 between Iran and the E3+3—Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany.[23] Exact dates for fuel deal talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1) are yet to be set.[24] Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in late November that although Tehran is not opposed to sending its low-enriched uranium aboard for further enrichment, the Foreign Ministry want a 100 percent guarantee that there will be a simultaneous exchange for fuel for its nuclear reactor on Iranian soil.[25]  

In November 2009, Obama met with Medvedev at an Asia-Pacific summit in an effort to secure Moscow’s backing to break the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  After the meeting, the two presidents announced that they hope to strike a new arms control deal by December 2009 to replace the expired START I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty).[26] Subsequently, Russia announced that the regularly delayed $1 billion Iranian reactor Moscow is building at Bushehr will not begin operations in 2009. Though Russia insisted that the delay is technical and not motivated by political concerns, the timing of this announcement after the meeting between Obama and Medvedev adds to the recent friction in Russian-Iranian ties, particularly after Medvedev was quoted saying, Russia is “not completely happy about [Iran’s] pace” to solve the nuclear impasse and that more sanctions were possible.[27] Later in November, Russian spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said “we are counting on a quick positive response from Tehran” concerning the plan to enrich Iranian uranium abroad under IAEA supervision.[28]

In late November 2009, the IAEA passed a rebuke of Iran for building a second enrichment plan in secret, 25 votes to three.[29] Russia, which had been unwilling in the past to take a hard line against Iran for its enrichment activities, supported the resolution.[30] The resolution by the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors called on Iran to halt uranium enrichment and immediately freeze the construction of its Fordo nuclear facility, located near Qom.[31] A Russian diplomatic source requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, said “if there is a consensus on Iran sanctions, we will not stand aside, though we would rather have Iran cooperating more openly and consistently with the IAEA and showing clear steps to lift concerns, than introducing sanctions against Iran.”[32] Ahmadinejad responded, asserting that “some people were deceived. I think Russia made a mistake.” He claimed that Russia did not have proper “analysis” of the issue.[33] He added that any sanctions would have minimal effect and world powers would not think about launching an attack on Iran.[34] 

In December 2009, an anonymous senior US official announced that a meeting by the P5+1 (including the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) on Iran’s nuclear program had been canceled due to China’s opposition, though the remaining five still planned to talk by conference call. [35] In late December, representatives from Russia, along with other P5+1 members, adjourned their telephone consultation about Iran’s nuclear program but did not announce when they will ask the UNSC to consider measure to increase pressure on Iran.[36] U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said it was premature to discuss possible new sanctions, but the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany were mulling “a range of alternatives.”[37]  Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Andrei Nesterenko said that new sanctions against Iran would not resolve the long-running nuclear dispute and that “there is a need for a continuous search for additional resources to make progress.”[38 

In the early part of January 2010, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned the West that it had one month to accept Iran’s counterproposal to the October UN offer, after which time Iran would enrich its stockpile of low enriched uranium to 20 percent, though it is unclear if it has the technical ability to accomplish this task.[39] Although Mottaki did not say exactly the terms of Iran’s counter offer, in the past Iran has suggested a simultaneous uranium swap either on Iranian territory or in Turkey, though the West rejected this offer because it would not delay Iran’s ability to produce a weapon, should it choose to do so.[40] Mottaki’s comments were broadcast on state television and presented as an ultimatum to the West just two days after Iran missed a deadline set by the United States and its allies to accept the October UN deal.[41]

In mid-January 2010, the P5+1 agreed that the Iranian response to proposals to alter its nuclear development program had been inadequate and warranted consideration of further measures by the UNSC.[42] In spite of this multilateral international response, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced several days later that he saw signs of progress in negptiations, stating that “there are some minor signs indicating a realistic approach, so any probable developments or progress can be discussed later.”[43] Soon thereafter, Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergei Lavrov said his country regrets Iran’s apparent rejection of the U.N.-backed proposal, adding that he could discuss sanctions but he did not commit to supporting them.[44]

Also in mid-January, Russia’s state nuclear corporation announced that Iran’s first nuclear power plant, the Bushehr plant, will be operating by mid-2011.[45] Work on the plant began in 1974 and was abandoned five years later until in the 1990s, when Russia took over building work.[46] Russia’s work has since been beset with delays allegedly due to technical issue.[47]

In February 2010, Head of the International Affairs committee in Russia’s Lower House of Parliament Konstantin Kosachyov stated “as regards to tougher conversation with Iran, the application of some additional sanctions of an economic character, on this question mutually understanding between Russia and its partners in the international arena has clearly increased. The situation is beginning to alarm us more and more.”[48] Kosachyov also expressed concern over Iran’s latest rocket test and its defiance of international demands for it to stop uranium enrichment.[49] Nonetheless, later that month, Deputy Director of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Security Affairs Oleg Rozhkov said Moscow would only consider sanctions aimed at strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime. “Call them what you want – crippling or paralyzing – we are not going to work on sanctions or measures which could lead to the political or economic or financial isolation of this country.[50] What relation to non-proliferation is there in forbidding banking activities with Iran? This is a financial blockage. And oil and gas. These sanctions are aimed only at paralyzing the country and paralyzing the regime.”[51]

In March 2010, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Russia, Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov clashed publicly after Lavrov announced that Russia would complete a nuclear power plant in Iran by the summer of 2010.[52] Clinton argued “we think it would be premature to go forward with any project at this time, because we want to send an unequivocal message to the Iranians.”[53] Lavrov responded that the project would definitely be completed.[54] Later during Clinton’s visit, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s Deputy Chief of Staff Yuri Ushakov announced that Putin told Clinton that he “gave his approval of the situation in Iran and underlined that such a situation (involving Russian support of a sanctions resolution) was possible.”[55]

Also in March, a top Russian Foreign Ministry official announced that Russian and Chinese envoys pressed the Iranian government to accept a UN plan on uranium enrichment in Tehran in early March.[56] He added, “Russia would consider supporting sanctions tailored to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, though it is certain against any paralyzing sanctions that are aimed not at nonproliferation but at punishing Iran or, God forbid, regime change.”[57] Russia also explained its reluctance to impose sanctions on Iran due to the historic ties between the two countries; namely that they are “economic and cultural partners, as well as neighbors on the Caspian Sea.”[58]

In late March 2010, senior diplomats from Britain, the U.S., France, Germany, Russia, and China agreed that they should press for a new round of sanctions against Tehran.[59]

In April 2010, in the midst of a contentious warning by an Iranian Revolutionary Guard cleric announcing that Iran would counter any attack by Israel, Iran urged Russia to proceed with the delivery of the S-300 anti-aircraft defense system.[60] Also in April, Russia and the United States signed an arms reduction treaty, presenting a united front against Iran’s nuclear program.[61]  Russian President Dmitri Medvedev expressed support for the U.S.-led push to impose sanctions on Iran.[62] “We cannot turn a blind eye to this,” Medvedev explained while underscoring that the international community should attempt to address the issue of Tehran’s nuclear program whilst avoiding hardship for the Iranian people.[63] Subsequently, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced Germany’s support for the new U.S. nuclear strategy.[64] He argued that this new policy combined with the signing of a U.S.– Russian arms reduction agreement would point to the how serious the international community is about disarmament and Iran’s alleged nuclear program.[65] 

On April 14, 2010, the P5+1, that is the U.S., the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany, held a second round of talks concerning new sanctions against Iran for its refusal of negotiations pertaining to Tehran’s nuclear program.[66] Russian and Chinese United Nations ambassadors both expressed a high level of constructive consultation, and noted that there would be more talks in the near future.[67]

In May 2010, the P5+1, that is Russia, Germany, Britain, France, China, and the U.S., reached a new agreement regarding sanctions against Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described this agreement as a “strong draft” of a resolution.[68] The new agreement, with the change in Russian and Chinese decision to sign on to a new round of sanctions, came after Turkey and Brazil brokered a nuclear swap deal with Iran.[69] The Turkey-Brazil proposal would allow Iran to enrich uranium at a considerably high level of purity, that is, higher than levels permitted by international law.[70]

Also in May 2010, Rosatam (Russia’s State Nuclear Energy Corporation) chief Sergei Kiriyenko announced that, after many delays and technical setbacks, the Bushehr nuclear is set to begin operating in August of 2010.[71] Kiriyenko also stated that any sanctions against Iran would not further delay or altogether abandon this schedule.[72]

In late June 2010, during G-8 talks when world leaders met in Ontario, the leaders of Russia, Italy, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Japan, and the United States issued a statement concerning Iran’s nuclear program: “We are profoundly concerned by Iran’s continued lack of transparency regarding its nuclear activities and its stated intention to continue and expand enriching uranium, including to nearly 20 percent.”[73]

In July 2010, Russia President Dmitry Medvedev expressed concern over Iran’s nuclear program when he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “Iran must find courage and start fully fledged cooperation with the international community, even if it dislikes some of the issues it faces.”[74] Medvedev added that Iran was close to having the capabilities to build nuclear weapons, to which Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki responded, “the recent comments made by Medvedev regarding the Iranian nuclear theme are totally false and we deny them.”[75]

 

Economic Relationship:

Russia and Iran together represent the first and second in the world in natural gas reserves and second and fourth in oil production, which has encouraged the two to pursue economic partnerships involving the refining and export of oil and gas. [76] Along with Qatar, which ranks third in natural gas reserves, Russia and Iran agreed in October 2008 to increase their cooperation in the energy sector. [77] Together, the three countries account for over 40 percent of global natural gas reserves. [78] Beyond the developing “gas troika” with Qatar, Iran and Russia have also cooperated for many years in exploiting the reserves in the Caspian Sea.[79]  The two also signed a treaty in Tehran in January 2008 agreeing to cooperate in developing some of Iran’s vast oil and natural gas reserves.[80] In January 2009, Tehran and Moscow signed an agreement to trade natural gas in order to increase their export efficiency and increase profits. [81] Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko announced in July 2009 that Russia is eager to help Iran with the development of oil and gas fields in the Islamic Republic.[82]

Beyond their trade and cooperation in hydrocarbons, Iran and Russia have also expanded trade ties in many non-energy sectors of the economy, including a large agriculture agreement in January 2009 and a telecommunications contract in December 2008. [83] Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled over $3 billion in 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund.[84] Reflecting Russia’s growing economic relationship with Iran, the Russian minister of agriculture called Iran a “strategic partner” of Russia after the two signed the agricultural agreement in Moscow in January 2009. [85] Russian involvement in the Iranian telecommunication market continued to expand in August 2009, when Russia’s third largest mobile phone operator, Megafon, pledged to invest more than $4.5 billion to expand coverage in the Islamic Republic.[86]

Economic cooperation between the two countries has also expanded on the provincial level. In July 2009, Sergey Marouzov, the Governor of Russia’s Olianovsk province, met with Iran’s general consul in Kazan, Reza Baghban Kondori. The two discussed mutual economic cooperation, including Iranian participation in a cane factory in the province. Marouzov also expressed his desire to sell aircrafts manufactured in Olianovsk to Tehran. In response, Kondori expressed Iran’s desire to exchange Iranian students and professors with the Olianovsk Aviation College.[87]

Following a series of high profile aviation accidents during the summer of 2009, Russia and Iran have both emphasized the criticality of bilateral ties in the aviation industry. In August 2009, Deputy Head of Russian Federation's Union of Airplane Manufacturers Sergei Galperin described Russian aviation sales to Iran as highly important for both parties.[88] That same month, Iran and Russia concluded an agreement in which Tehran will purchase five Tu-204 passenger jets, with an option for thirty more.[89] Galperin indicated in an August 2009 interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency that Iran intends to purchase roughly one hundred aircraft in total, with major components of them being constructed in Iran under license.[90] In addition to interest in the Tu-204, Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency reported on August 22, 2009 that Iran's Minister of Road and Transportation Hamid Behbahani is considering purchasing Sukhoi Superject 100s from Russia. The Superjet 100 is a modern regional jet slated to enter the market by the end of 2009.[91] Aviation ties between the two countries have met with some contention, however. During August 2009 discussions over future aircraft exports, Managing Director of Iran Air Tour Company Mehdi Sadeqi demonstrated skepticism and dissatisfaction regarding Iran’s dealings with the Russian aviation industry, stating that "on many occasions, the Russian companies are reluctant to fulfill their undertakings despite their preliminary pledges."[92]  

Ties in others areas of transportation received a boost in August 2009 when Moscow and Tehran inked a memorandum of understanding emphasizing collaboration in the fields of rail, road and sea transportation.[93]  

In December 2009, Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki and Russian Energy Minister, Sergei Shmatko signed four cooperation deals at the end of the eighth meeting of their joint economic commission in Tehran.[94] The deals related to the joint economic commission, cooperation between energy ministries, and several telecommunication companies.[95] Shmatko also met with Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi and the two ministers agreed to establish a joint investment company in order to facilitate the cooperation in the energy field.[96] Shmatko told reporters after the bilateral meetings that Russia’s largest petrochemical holding SIBUR is negotiating with the Iranian National Petrochemical Company (NPC) on the construction of major petrochemical plants in Iran. SIBUR President Dmitry Konov indicated that his company “had been negotiating with the Iranian NPC [on] this issue for about a year,” adding that the joint venture aimed to build a petrochemical plant producing bulk polyolefin on the base of the Southern Pars gas field. [97]

In early December 2009, Russian non-military helicopter manufacturer Verthalutirussia signed an agreement with Iranian company Fanavaran Aseman Giti to supply helicopters to Iran.[98]According to the agreement, the Iranian company will represent the Russian firm in Iran and will be responsible for marketing and advertising there.[99]

Later that month, an anonymous senior US official announced that a meeting by the P5+1 (including the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) on Iran’s nuclear program had been canceled due to China’s opposition, though the remaining five still planned to talk by conference call. [100]

In February 2010, Russia hardened its position on the stalled sale of the S-300 air defense system to Iran.[101] Russia Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov said in regard to the issue of the delayed export to Iran that “there are fundamental principles linked to the sale that we never, in accordance with our legislation, and according to our international obligations, take any actions that will lead to the destabilization of certain regions.”[102] This was a shift in the position that other Kremlin officials have taken, which attributes delays to technical reasons for not exporting the truck-mounted missile that can hit aircraft up to 90 miles away.[103]

In March 2010, Russian oil company LUKoil announced its decision to withdraw from the Anaran project in Iran in response to U.S. sanctions against Tehran.[104] The Anaran project comprises of “four oil structures in Iran and the reserves at the project sites estimated at 2 billion barrels of oil.”[105]

In July 2010, just two weeks after the U.S.’s unilateral sanctions on Iran to restrict investment in Iran’s energy sector and funding for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko announced, “active cooperation between Russian and Iranian companies in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors, which are developing and widening in their joint work.”[106] Later that month, the head of the Iran Commission of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry Rajab Safarov stated that “talks are being held on a working level and the first delivery [of gasoline to Iran] may take place in late August or September. We’re talking about serious deliveries. Obviously U.S. and European Union Sanctions open up a niche.”[107]

[Click here for more information on Russia’s business relationship with Iran]

 

Diplomatic/Military Relationship:

Russia and Iran have been increasing their diplomatic and even military cooperation in recent years, building a firmer friendship based on common trade goals and political agendas.  Russia has assisted Iran with its conventional military, including training and defensive weapons that could serve to protect against air strikes targeting Iran.[108] According to RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency, Russia began shipping components for the S-300 surface-to-air defense systems to Iran in December 2008, although the status of these shipments remains unclear.[109] In June 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called upon President Medvedev to cancel Russia’s sale of the S-300 air defense system. Although Russian authorities responded by indicating that they did not intend to fulfill the contract, Moscow noted its budgetary need for arms sales profits.[110] President Medvedev reiterated his intention to reconsider the sale of the S-300 system during an August 2009 meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres. In return, according to an unnamed Kremlin official, Peres assured his Russian counterpart that “Israel is not planning any strikes on the territory of Iran.”[111] Nevertheless, an unnamed Israeli military source stated in August 2009 that the Israeli defense community expects Iran to obtain the S-300 system by 2010. According to the source, quoted by the World Tribune, Iran has concluded an agreement to purchase the air defense system with at least one former Soviet republic.[112]

Russia also sold Iran Tor-M1 air defense missile systems and helped train Iranians in the use of the Tor-M1 systems after the two signed a $700 million contract in 2005.[113]  In December 2008, the Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Organization for Military and Technical Cooperation Alexander Foumin said that his country intended to increase joint military cooperation with Iran, a change that he said would bring greater stability to the region.[114] In February 2009, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said that the two countries hoped to find ways to increase their defense cooperation through military and technical effort.[115]

Beyond traditional diplomatic and military cooperation, Iran and Russia have extended their relations into the field of nuclear technology. Though Russia has voted in favor of UNSC sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, it has also helped Iran develop the Bushehr facilities and has supported Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear technology in the IAEA.[116]

The two countries have also cooperated in multilateral forums, notably the Caspian Sea states summits. Russia and Iran have called for Caspian Sea states to keep western influence out of the region.[117] The five Caspian states, which include Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan, agreed in a joint declaration in 2007 that they "under no circumstances will allow the use of their territories by other states for an aggression or other military actions against any of the parties."[118] Highlighting collaboration in the Caspian region, Russian and Iranian units cooperated in a series of naval exercises in the Caspian Sea in July 2009. Titled "Regional Interaction, Key to Safe and Clean Caspian Sea," the maneuvers were non-military in nature, with a vessel of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations and several Iranian assets focusing on search and rescue and anti-pollution.[119] 

Shortly after the 2009 Iranian presidential election, the leaders of Iran and Russia met privately at the June 2009 meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Russia, a trade organization in which Iran is an observer and Russia is a full member. Russian Deputy Foreign Ministry Sergei Ryabkov said that “It’s extremely symbolic that [Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s] first foreign visit after his re-election was made to Russia.”[120] Also in June 2009, the Group of Eight (G8), of which Russia is a part, held a meeting in Trieste, Italy to discuss security in Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the meeting, the foreign ministers of the G8 nations demanded “that violence [in Iran]…cease immediately” and called upon Iran to find peaceful solutions to the political crisis.[121]

In July 2009, American President Barack Obama met with President Medvedev in Moscow. According to aides, Iran was the primary issue discussed between the two presidents in their one-on-one meeting; U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough noted that Obama was “struck by the candor with which President Medvedev has underscored his concern about the growing threat from Iran."[122] Obama and Medvedev also discussed a planned U.S. missile defense shield. Washington maintains that the shield is aimed at rogue states such as Iran, however, many in the Kremlin view this claim with skepticism. In July 2009, one Russian MP, Aleksandr Babakov, underscored this view, saying “the deployment of a missile defence [sic] system is not linked to the Iran threat,” but rather constitutes offensive weaponry aimed at Russia.[123]

In late December 2009, during the continued civil unrest following the June 12th Presidential election, an Iran security council ordered a checkup of the jet standing ready to fly Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to Russia should the country reach a breaking point.[124]

In May 2010, concerning Russian-Iranian military connections, US President’s Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction Gary Samore commented on the Russia’s promised advanced air defense system to Iran.[125] Samore reiterated that the US has made it clear to Russia that if Russia follows through with this promise it would have serious implications on US-Russian relations.[126] In July 2010, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani argued that since the contract for the S-300 air defense missiles to Iran were concluded prior to sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council in June 2010, Russia should and must follow through with their delivery of these defense missiles.[127] This came in response to Russia’s recent announcement that the U.N.’s sanctions prohibit Russia from following through with their 2007 contract to deliver the sophisticated defense missiles.[128]

 


[1] "China, Russia congratulate Ahmadinejad," Press TV,  June 16, 2009, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/98261.htm?sectionid=351020101 (June, 22, 2009)
[2] “IAEA Divided On Iran Nuke Issue,” China Daily, September 20, 2005; News Update on IAEA & Iran Chronology of Key Events, International Atomic Energy Agency, February 4, 2006
[3] “Sarkozy Tells Iran To Join Nuclear Talks Or Face Further Isolation,” France 24, June 4, 2009, http://www.france24.com/en/20090604-sarkozy-iran-nuclear-talks-tehran-weapons-france (June 4, 2009)
[4] Avni, Benny, “At Assembly, Fretting Over Russia’s Rejection Of Iran Sanctions,” New York Sun, September 25, 2008
[5] The permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK, USA) plus Germany
[6] Horovitz, Liviu and David Peranteau, “Iran and the IAEA: The Road to "Gridlock" and An Uncertain Path Forward,” James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation: Monterey Institute of International Studies, October 14, 2008 http://cns.miis.edu/stories/081014_iran_iaea.htm
[7] “Russia Will Fulfill Duties on Iran’s Nuclear Power Plant,” IRNA, January 15, 2009; “Aghazadeh: We Expect Russia To Complete Power Plant Soon”, Shahab News, January 14, 2009
[8] “Putin Warns U.S. Against Military Action on Iran,” Associated Press, October 16, 2007; Kraul, Chris and Sergei L. Loiko, “Russia Angry At Sanctions On Arms Firm,” Los Angeles Times, October 25, 2008
[9] Traynor, Ian, “Obama Administration Offers Olive Branch To Russia And Iran,” The Guardian, February 7, 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/07/us-russia-iran-biden-obama (May 30, 2009)
[10] “Russia Denies US ‘Trade-Off’ On Iran,” Shanghai Daily, March 4, 2009, http://www.shanghaidaily.com/sp/article/2009/200903/20090304/article_393036.htm (May 30, 2009); “Iran, Russia Discuss 10-Year Nuclear Fuel Supply Deal,” Rusnet, February 27, 2009, http://www.rusnet.nl/news/2009/02/27/currentaffairs01.shtml (May 30, 2009)
[11] “Iran, North Korea Two Different Nuclear Problems – Medvedev,” Interfax, July 6, 2009
[12] “Russian Min: Bushehr Reactor To Go Online By Year-End,” Fars News Agency, July 23, 2009
[13] “IDRO Supports Domestic Producers Of Nuke Plants Equipment,” Mehr News Agency, July 11, 2009
[14]  “No Technical Obstacle To Start Up Bushehr Nuclear Plant,” Mehr News Agency, July 1, 2009
[15] “Bushehr Nuclear Plant To Come On Stream By End Of September,” Tehran times, July 28, 2009, http://www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=199721 (August 23, 2009)
[16] Bill Varner and Janine Zacharia, “Obama’s UN Nuclear Summit Sidesteps Iran, North Korea Disputes,” Bloomberg, September 22,2009, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=a4GP9UWaKhxo (September 23, 2009)
[17] Jonothan Weisman, “U.N. Passes Nuclear Safeguards Plan,” Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2009, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125380573185037961.html?mod=googlenews_wsj (September 25, 2009)
[18] Gerry Aziakou, “Ahmadinejad Offers Talks On Nuclear Program,” AFP, September 25, 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iPXoBiBmXAeH-ittOMEDtauQudIQ (September 25, 2009)
[19] “Kremlin says sanctions against Iran unlikely,” Reuters, October 28, 2009;
[20] “Clinton presses Russia on Iran” Al Jazeera English, October 13, 2009.
[21] “Iran Demands Changes to Deal with the West” Times Online, October 30, 2009.
[22] “Iran Demands Changes to Deal with the West” Times Online, October 30, 2009.
[23] “Iran Demands Changes to Deal with the West” Times Online, October 30, 2009.
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