Will Russia Deliver On Iran?

Today’s POLITICUS in the New York Times tries to fathom the extent to which NATO and the Western powers really trust Russia to cooperate in putting pressure on Iran, regarding its nuclear programme.  Whilst certain recent moves by the West suggest an element of confidence in the Kremlin’s good nature, such as the Mistral deal, and, depending on who you read, the scrapping of the missile defence scheme, others imply a latent distrust. 

How much trust do — or should — the Western allies accord Russia in attempting to get its cooperation to stop Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons?

And while good faith is the issue, what practical Western steps or accommodations are understood in NATO Brussels’ home-office line that the allies owe Moscow recognition of its “security interests”?

The slithers of answers that are emerging look contradictory.

Onone hand, a report published last week rated the U.S., British andFrench belief in Russia’s reliability low enough so that, for fear ofMoscow informing Tehran, they refused for months to tell the Russiansof their strategy relating to a secret Iranian nuclear site in Qumbefore its public disclosure in September.

Going in the otherdirection, Adm. Igor Burtsev of the Russian Navy indicated to Russianmedia over the weekend that France was now ready to sell it ahelicopter-carrying assault ship and a license to produce four similaradvanced vessels. They are the warships that the Russian Navy’scommander in chief, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, said, glowingly, would haveallowed his forces to complete its tasks in the 2008 invasion ofGeorgia in 26 minutes instead of 40 hours.

Although the Frenchhave confirmed negotiations but not a sale, the purchase would be thefirst ever of such technological magnitude — and strategic comfort –involving a NATO member and Russia.

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