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The Kremlin's Ongoing Support for the Mullahs

4:39 PM, Nov 14, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Jamie Kirchick, writing in the Wall Street Journal, examines Russia's ongoing support for Iran:

Governments in the U.S. and Europe have cited the IAEA report as evidence of Iran's continued defiance of international law. A Russian government statement last Wednesday, by contrast, ridiculed it as "a compilation of well-known facts that have intentionally been given a politicized intonation."  The Russian statement, which could be mistaken for something produced by the Iranian regime, alleged that the report's authors "resort to assumptions and suspicions, and juggle information with the purpose of creating the impression that the Iranian nuclear program has a military component." ...

The Russian response shouldn't have come as a shock to the White House and State Department. Russia has never been serious about halting Iran's nuclear ambitions. In January, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that there was no evidence that Iran was seeking a bomb. That same month, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that sanctions had run their course and should be lifted. This, just months after Mr. Lavrov was applauded for agreeing to a sanctions package. In May, Russia sent a shipment of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which it constructed for Iran nearly two decades ago. The IAEA report itself found that a "foreign expert," later identified by the Washington Post as Russian nuclear scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko, has assisted the Iranian program.

The hope that a revanchist Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, will support a tougher stance against Tehran assumes that Moscow shares the West's view that a nuclear Iran is against its interests. Judging by their reaction to the IAEA report, the Russians don't see things this way. For one, a nuclear Iran would upset the political order of the Middle East, overturning America and its allies as the status-quo powers. "Iran is a mania with the Americans; it's not our problem," a Putin adviser reportedly said in 2009. Indeed, if forestalling a nuclear Iran were so plainly in Russia's interest, Moscow would have sided with the U.S. and its allies long ago, and would not have to be haggled into taking a tougher line.

Whole thing here.

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