With the Rouhani presidency just around the corner, Moscow – reportedly concerned about the lack of progress in nuclear diplomacy – is allowing Tehran to cuddle up again like in the good old days: with increased military, energy and nuclear cooperation.
While most observers are focused on Iran’s post-election policies, joint Moscow-Tehran military cooperation advances. In late June, for example, Iran dispatched two missile boats close to the Caspian Sea, after Russian Navy warships docked in April at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas (recently mentioned here). The two navies are planning joint military exercises later this year.
On July 1, outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other high-ranking Iranian officials went to Moscow for a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, where he also met with Russian President Vladamir Putin.
A few days earlier, Fereydoun Abbasi – head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) – attended a ministerial conference on nuclear power in St. Petersburg , where he announced that Iran’s Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant is operating now with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts – adding there will be two or three more plants built.
That’s just what we noticed from English-language reports in the past few weeks. Curious, we asked some Russian-speaking friends to update on coverage in their language. They found repeated criticism of sanctions, emphasis on Tehran’s rejection of claims it’s sending weapons to Syria, as well as implied support for Iranian insistence its missile program is for defensive purposes.
Wonder what all this says about the future of the P5+1?