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10 Jun, 2010 12:45

ROAR: “Iran is interested in cooperation with Russia despite sanctions”

ROAR: “Iran is interested in cooperation with Russia despite sanctions”

Tehran may react differently to Russia’s and China’s support for the fourth round of sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council, analysts say.

Thanks to Moscow and Beijing, Tehran has avoided “paralyzing sanctions,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said in an article titled “The fourth punishment for Iran”. The international community “once again demanded that Iran stops its activities in the nuclear sphere and offered particular benefits for this step,” the paper noted.

If Iran disobeys, in three months the Security Council may consider new measures. However, judging by the statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one cannot expect “a positive reaction” from him, the paper said.

As a result, the US may toughen its own sanctions against Tehran. And the European Union on June 20 will start to develop its measures too, Vedomosti daily said. However, analysts still question the effectiveness of such sanctions. It is too low, and may only slow down the development of the Iranian nuclear program, but will not lead to a complete stop, the paper noted.

“The new sanctions are a good reason for the Iranian regime to mobilize the population,” Georgy Mirsky of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations told the paper.

“If the Security Council’s member states had wanted to deal Tehran a serious blow they would have agreed on the ban on buying oil from Iran and would impose an embargo on the export of petroleum to that country,” Mirsky told Rosbalt news agency. “It would be an effective measure that could put Iran in a difficult position,” he said, adding that the new sanctions are “fairly mild.”

They will bring Tehran “certain problems in financial sphere, trade and economy, but it will not be too difficult for the country to go through them,” the analyst said. The Iranian authorities may try to play an internal political card, using the issue of an external threat, he noted.

As for Russia’s decision to support the sanctions, Moscow “has left the number of countries which are friendly to Iran and has become one of neutral states,” believes Rajab Safarov, director of the Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies. “This will have a negative effect on bilateral cooperation,” he told Vedomosti.

Moscow considered it necessary to support the anti-Iranian resolution “against a background of the reset of relations with the US leadership," RBC daily said. “For China, which has close political and, most importantly, economic relations with Iran, such a move will not bring many problems,” the paper noted. “But it will seriously affect not very easy Russian-Iranian relations.”

“Iran will not quarrel with China whose market is too important for Tehran,” Evgeny Satanovsky, president of the Institute of the Middle East Studies, told the paper. Russia is important for Iran “only in two aspects, as a supplier of technologies and defense equipment, and as a cover on the international arena,” he said.

However, Russia will not argue with the West over Iran now, the analyst said. And Iran has many historic and political claims to Russia, he added.

The main result of toughening sanctions may be strengthening positions of the Iranian leadership inside the country. “Tehran has received another confirmation of the existence of an external enemy embodied by the West, and first of all, the US,” RBC daily said.

“Taking into account the aggravation of the situation in the Middle East (the events around the Gaza Strip), Iran may again try to play a part of the leader of anti-Israel and anti-American movement in the region,” the paper noted.

“And if the adopted sanctions do not bring serious economic effect, then the international community will not have any serious non-military methods of pressure on Tehran,” the daily said.

The Iranian president will get as much as possible from the sanctions in his internal policy, Satanovsky believes. “However, Ahmadinejad is wrong in saying that sanctions will not bring any problems for Iran,” he said.

“It is another matter that no sanctions will stop the Iranian nuclear program,” the analyst noted, adding that any other leader would continue this program.

“The nervous discussion about the Iranian nuclear program has been continuing for six years,” NTV news channel said. “And sanctions have been toughened over four years,” it added.

The new sanctions are “not only more serious than the previous ones,” the channel noted. “More important is not what will be banned but who will do it and how,” it added. “Only Turkey and Brazil voted against the sanctions, but the main players, including Russia and China, supported them.”

The Iranian leader had called on Moscow and Beijing not to support Tehran’s “Western enemies” and to block the resolution. But Russia and China “have already done everything so that ordinary Iranians do not suffer from the sanctions,” the channel said, adding that all the countries have “limits of patience.”

Now the world will wait for Iran’s next steps, the channel said. “However, Tehran has already warned that it may respond with severing ties with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to stop discussing its nuclear program,” it added.

These are the things absolutely contrary to what other countries want, the channel said. It was expected, and now there are expectations that “bargaining will be continued,” it noted.

At the same time, Iranians do not have many levers to influence Russia’s position, some analysts say. They even cannot stop projects with Russia because, “in fact, there are no contracts for building new nuclear plants or developing new oilfields,” said Nina Mamedova of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Tehran will hardly stop cooperation with Russia in a military and technical field, as well as oil swap deals, Mamedova told Vremya Novostey daily. “Iran is interested in cooperation with Russia because it gives Tehran what it really needs,” she said.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review