The tense relations between Russia and the US, between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, brings rise to concerns over ongoing Iran nuclear talks, set to resume in Baghdad on May 23.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has unveiled a government dominated by loyalists, leaving hopes for reform slim and entrenching Kremlin’s over the economy’s commanding heights. Along with Putin’s opting out of the G8 Summit, the tense relations between Russia and the US are worrisome for many due to the importance of a strong front being presented by Putin and Obama against nuclear proliferation in Iran. With President Obama facing his reelection year, talks between the two nation’s will be scarce and wide-spaced, leaving little room for political gobbledygook, stressing substantial progress on relations that have already been strained by the Syrian civil war. With Russia and America as the two former superpowers responsible for decades of nuclear standoff, they have also assumed the roles concerning nuclear development and proliferation. America’s pursuit of hegemony has resulted in a staunch policy condemning countries seeking nuclear programs, demanding countries to disarm despite America’s own unwillingness to denuclearize. So saying, President Obama’s position on an Iranian nuclear program is clear. Obama has repudiated any intention of adopting deterrence of a nuclear Iran as an acceptable policy option. Thus, such rigidity could result in an Iranian agreement to live up any resolve to acquire nuclear weapons; President Obama could retreat from his previously assumed rigidity; or there could be war.
“Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.” – Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader
War seems to be a drastic conclusion to draw, as all state leaders are assumed to be rational independent thinkers, yet Iran’s history does not suggest appeasement to be high on the agenda. Nevertheless, Iran has shown signs of a renewed unwillingness to take seriously these talks between itself and the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, America and Germany). Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei has stated that the pursuit of nuclear weapons is considered a grace sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous. The supreme leader has also stated his ultimate goal is to make the state of Israel disappear, as well as to the combat the ‘Great Devil’ represented by the American nation. The transitions from repressive isolation to willing nuclear talks stems largely from international sanctions imposed on the country in recent years, slowly constricting the economy over the past year. With both the EU and the USA embargoing Iranian oil shipments, Iran’s oil sits in storage tanks. Iran’s oil sector accounted for 60% of total government revenue, thus the vulnerability of the regime’s strength to said sanctions is apparent. A dollar decline in the price of crude oil could reduce the government revenue by as much as $1 billion. So saying, Iran’s intentions may be to purely seem wiling and cooperative so as to relieve itself from such crippling fiscal constraints. So saying, most of the countries within the P5+1 remain highly skeptical of Iran’s true intentions and purposes. Many believe that Iran is using the talks as a stalling tactics so as to buy time to produce the kind of highly enriched uranium necessary for bombs. The tension of such a situation is very evident considering the danger this would present to America’s prime Middle Eastern ally, Israel, who has already stated its intention to use military force to ensure its security.
“I don’t think there is any question that the impact of this pressure played a role in Iran’s decision to come to the table. The value of their currency, the rial, has dropped like a rock.” – David Cohen, Undersecretary of Treasury
Iran will seek bargaining leverage in the talks, seeking to drive a wedge between an already strenuous connected group of state leaders. Iran will see to generate further tensions among its negotiating adversaries while maintaining a tight diplomatic unity of its own. For this reason, the Russo-American relations must grow into a more coherent P5+1 force with which to deal with the Iranian situation. With Sarkozy out, Francois Hollande is likely to be more accommodating then the hard-line Sarkozy. Germany and Britain will rally around US but will do little in ways to provide leadership because of the hegemony represented by Russia and US in this area. China has become more isolated in recent years, more fixated on its economic interests and need for oil, hence the growing tensions over the Spratly islands. So saying, Russia is the last significant player in the equation. Russia has grown skeptical of American diplomacy but many theorists suggest that it has grown concerned about a possible nuclear-armed Iran, thus more wiling to act accordingly. With US and Russian relations frayed in the past because of American dominance and unstated aims in Libya, later exasperated by the Syrian civil war, the diplomatic ties between Russia and America will be easily torn asunder by Iranian leaders if not properly dealt with.