Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

China deceives Iran in Russia's favor

Geneva talks on the Iranian nuclear program is a breakthrough, but this is only the first step towards a resolution of the complex situation in the region, said in a live broadcast of Pravda.Ru Sergei Mikheyev, a political scientist, Director of the Caspian Cooperation Institute. The expert explained why Iran and the West chose mutual concessions and what the position of the Russian Federation was, and touched on the issues around the Caspian Sea.

"In recent years, the situation in Iran was becoming increasingly tougher and tenser, there were talks about a possible war. With a new president, Hassan Rouhani, the situation has not changed fundamentally, but the approaches to solving it have changed," said the expert. He believes that a personal factor in the negotiations at this level does not play such an important role that the Iranians say it does. "Everything is decided during backroom negotiations, and they were conducted before Rouhani became president," said Mikheyev. "As a result, there was a change in the style of communication; it has become more flexible on both sides. This is not because the crisis of confidence on both sides has disappeared. This is because it became clear to the Iranians that they have to deal with the economy, and the Americans realized that they do not need a military operation against Iran, and they are not ready for it. "

The expert believes that Iran's position was influenced by three factors. First, possession of nuclear weapons imposes very serious responsibility. The situation would have changed throughout Iran, and not in a positive direction. Iran with a nuclear club in its hands is an object of intense pressure. "It might be better for Iran if others thought that it could acquire a bomb quickly enough if need be, for example, from Pakistan," said Mikheyev. The second factor is the imposed sanctions that have put the economy and finances of Iran in a very difficult position. China has played a significant role here by promising a lot and giving very little. "China has promised to pay dollars for oil, and then began paying in yuan. This has seriously complicated currency conversion considering the UN ban on such banking activity. Furthermore, the Chinese have reduced the price of oil. Iran's bet on China was not justified," said Mikheyev.

The third factor is the overall situation around Iran that called for easing of the situation. Here we must give credit to the Iranians as they did not succumb to the temptation to find a panacea for destruction in the form of a nuclear bomb. After the massacre in Libya, many countries began considering the option of protection from aggression of the West, and North Korea's example shows that it is effective. "Russia's position has always been determined by the fact that it is not beneficial for Russia if Iran had a nuclear bomb. On the other hand, Russia understood that excessive pressure harmed its interests. Therefore, Russia was balancing between the position of the West and Iran's position."

As for Saudi Arabia, another important regional player, the Saudis and the Iranians are openly competing for the leadership in the Muslim world. It is indicative that Saudi Arabia has supported Israel in the assessment of the agreement as bad and unsuccessful.

In any event, Iran has agreed to accept some of the West's requirements in terms of control over its nuclear facilities, and the U.S. has clearly expressed interest in signing the agreement. Now, Iran will receive a portion of its frozen assets, which will allow solving a series of economic problems exacerbated by the imposition of the sanctions. But the main thing is that now nobody talks about the upcoming war or limited strikes, and even Israel, calling the agreement a mistake, was forced to accept it. "I think there will be no war, and it is extremely beneficial for us because Iran has a sea border with Russia," said Mikheyev.

Mikheyev does not believe that Iran has in possession or wants to possess nuclear weapons. The religion factor in Iran is very serious, and the expert believes that the statements of religious leaders of Iran that nuclear weapons are not acceptable from an Islamic perspective can be seriously taken into account. Answering the question whether this agreement marked the beginning of a movement towards a nuclear-free Middle East, Mikheyev said that it was wishful thinking. "I do not see any reasons for Israel to abandon nuclear weapons."

Speaking about the problems of the Caspian region, the analyst noted that the complex problems around the Caspian Sea originated form the collapse of the Soviet Union. Previous contracts have not been canceled, but are not enforced, and the new ones are not being entered into due to numerous mutual claims. The first issue is demarcation. There are bilateral agreements between Russia and Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. There are no such agreements between Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran to the south of the Caspian Sea. In addition, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are beginning to consider the boundaries of their zones of economic influence the state borders.

Iran offered Russia to draw a border along the former border with the Soviet Union, and let other countries solve issues among themselves. Russia is not satisfied with this approach. "We are interested in the open sea. But the status of the Caspian Sea has not yet been settled, so there are unresolved issues with fishing, transit, energy use, and pipelines."

Mikheyev believes that the status of the five-party treaty is needed (Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan). "As long as there is no agreement, there will be no pipelines through the Caspian Sea because everyone has claims to each other." Another common problem is military presence of third countries. "Five years ago, the Americans, relying on Azerbaijan, insisted on the formation of the "Caspian Guard," the group for the protection of hypothetical pipelines. In fact, they had other goals - the pressure on Iran to oust Russia from the region, control over the situation in the Caucasus and Central Asia," said Mikheyev. He believes that there is a need to legally record that all five countries are against the military presence of third parties in the region.

Transit across the Caspian Sea today is many times smaller than in the Soviet era, the expert said. Nobody wants to invest in the development of transport infrastructure, including the railway, although this is a profitable route for transporting goods from Iran to the north of Russia. As for the Navy, Russia has the most powerful navy in the Caspian Sea, it is dominant, "but here a five-party format of communication is important." With respect to a military threat between Iran and Azerbaijan, the expert believes that Iran is not really paying attention to the threat from Azerbaijan, Turkey's main ally. He believes that their rockets will reach it. "And Azerbaijan is well aware of it," said Sergei Mikheyev. 

Lyuba Lulko


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