Russia Debates Whether To Support Iran Nuclear Deal

Russia Debates Whether To Support Iran Nuclear Deal
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On April 2, world powers somehow managed to reach a last-minute framework agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. If everything goes well, six major powers will ink a deal with Iran by June 30, which would require Tehran to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of economic sanctions that have crippled its economy.

Russia unanimously wants to end Iran’s nuclear program, but…

But officials in Russia are still debating whether to support the Iran nuclear deal. That doesn’t mean Moscow wants Iran to go nuclear. Russia unanimously wants to end Iran’s nuclear program. But some foreign policy experts in Moscow wonder whether it will be too beneficial to the United States.

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Recently, Max Fisher of Vox interviewed Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs and head of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in Moscow. Lukyanov is one of the top foreign policy experts and his views reflect those of Russian government. He said the debate in Moscow about the Iran nuclear deal is centered around its benefits to Washington. Kremlin seems to be preoccupied with the United States and is always looking for ways to counter it.

When asked whether the U.S. and Russian interest align over the Iran issue, Lukyanov said that they don’t align. It’s just that they don’t contradict. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov helped Americans and Iranians reach a framework agreement. But many people in Moscow are asking, “Why should we help the Americans to reconcile with the Iranians, or the Iranians to reconcile with the Americans?”

What’s in it for Russia?

A section of Russian foreign policy establishment believes that if Iranian sanctions are lifted, Tehran could turn to West in terms of economy and new contracts. So, its not in Russian interests.  But everyone in Moscow wants to settle the Iran nuclear issue. Russia expects some stiff competition for the Iranian market. So, it has taken some preemptive measures to assure Tehran that Moscow could be a reliable partner.

Last month, Kremlin removed the ban and offered to deliver S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran. It’s too early to say whether the missiles will be delivered, but Russia has sent a message that it was ready to cooperate, Lukyanov told Max Fisher.

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