Russia may back tougher, US-sponsored Iran sanctions, but it
still expects to finish building the Bushehr nuclear power plant and
selling Iran advanced weapons systems.
Russia may be lining up to support a US-sponsored resolution
calling for tougher sanctions against Iran in the United Nations
Security Council, but that does not seem likely to interfere with
key deals between Iran and Russia. Russian contractors will likely
complete construction of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, it was
announced this week, and Russia may continue to sell sophisticated
arms to the Islamic Republic.
Moscow's willingness to back the new sanctions, which include a
partial arms embargo and financial strictures, represents a
significant evolution of Russian policy from its previous rejection
of such strong measures.
But there are limits. President Dmitry Medvedev's wish to move
toward a more pro-Western orbit, outlined in a leaked foreign policy
review last week has already run up against resistance from vested
interests in Russia's military-industrial establishment, experts
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"Relations with the US have become more important than relations
with Iran. Medvedev has changed the priorities, and you do see the
results" says Viktor Kremeniuk, deputy director of the official
Institute of USA-Canada Studies in Moscow. "But that doesn't mean
Russia's preparing to abandon Iran. Medvedev cannot go against
important Russian lobbies, who have vested interests that can't be
Sanctions will not stop anti-aircraft systems from reaching Iran
On Friday Mikhail Margelov, the head of the foreign affairs
commission of the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of
parliament, insisted that any sanctions resolution will not prevent
Russia from honoring an oft-delayed contract to deliver advanced,
long-range S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Iran.
"The draft [sanctions resolution] will not hit current contracts
between Russia and Iran," the independent Interfax news agency
quoted him as saying. "It should be remembered that Russia is a
responsible seller of its products on foreign markets and we are not
interested in the militarization of the Middle East."
The $1 billion Bushehr plant on the Persian Gulf, which has also
been the subject of repeated delays, will be completed and put into
operation within three months, the head of the state-run atomic
power agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, told journalists on Thursday.
"We expect the nuclear power plant will be launched by August if
everything goes according to plan," Mr. …