Pakistan steps in as Russia backs away from nuclear cooperation with Iran
Heavy American pressure directed at Moscow has caused the Russian government to back away from its nuclear cooperation with Iran. However, Pakistan, an Islamic state with a large and independent nuclear program of its own, may step in instead.
U.S. Stops Russia’s Planned Cooperation
Heavy American pressure has apparently caused the Russian government to back away from its large-scale nuclear cooperation with Iran. In an announcement to the media, the Russian government said it would take into consideration “political factors” in its nuclear relations with Iran.
Russia has been active in the Iranian nuclear filed over several years - since 1995 Russia has been building a 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor in the Iranian town of Bushehr. However, several days ago Russia surprised the world when it announced a ten-year, ten billion-dollar cooperation agreement with Iran that was to include five additional nuclear reactors.
Russia’s intent to supply several more reactors lead to a strong reaction from the American administration, which claimed Russian nuclear technology acquired by the Iranians would be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. Given the hostility between Washington and Teheran, the thought that the Islamic Republic of Iran would soon possess atom bombs was reason enough for the U.S. to openly and strongly attack the Russia’s nuclear program in the country.
A high-ranking American delegation quickly arrived in Moscow. Lead by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, the delegation entered into intense talks with Russian security as well as energy officials. After three days of talks the minister of Russia's nuclear-energy agency released a statement that seems to indicate Russia would be backing away from its intended cooperation with Iran. Mr. Alexander Rumyantsev’s statement, while holding up Russia’s right to continue the cooperation, also added that Russia would take into account “political factors” before deepening its assistance to Iran. The large amount of cash Iran was prepared to pay to the hard-hit Russian economy was apparently not enough to overcome the American pressure.
Iran Turns to Pakistan
Iranian reaction to the dwindling prospects of nuclear cooperation with Russia was quick and decisive. A high-level Iranian delegation will be arriving in Pakistan this week to discuss defense cooperation between the two Islamic countries. Headed by Iran's deputy defense minister, the Iranian officials will specifically discuss with their Pakistani counterparts the unique defense capabilities of both the countries, in order to see how they could benefit from their respective expertise in the area.
Both Iran and Pakistan have large indigenous defense industries, producing guns, armored vehicles and aircraft, among other defense products. However, Iran’s main interest will obviously center on Pakistani nuclear technology. Pakistan is the only Islamic nuclear power, and has an arsenal of atomic bombs, which it has already publicly tested despite severe international pressure. The technical knowledge of Pakistan’s atom scientists could greatly assist Iran in its quest for its own nuclear weapons.
While relations between Pakistan and Iran have been very strained in the past years, they have been steadily improving in recent months. The visit by the Iranian delegation is an important milestone in this process. (www.albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)