The Moscow-Tehran Axis

On the heels of my previous post comes this confusing article about Russia’s dealings with Iran.

Russian foreign policy as it pertains to Iran is a hall of mirrors. Information coming from Moscow or Tehran is a mixture of facts, lies, misinformation, deliberate misdirection, and wishful thinking, in some indeterminate combination. We know that Russia has helped the mullahs in their pursuit of nuclear weapons — just as they helped Saddam in his day — but the extent of that aid is not known.

Our frequent reader and commenter Tuan Jim sent this article, and included his commentary. First, from the International Herald Tribune:

Russia Denies Selling Missile System to Iran

MOSCOW: Russia is not selling Iran an advanced air-defense system, Russia’s agency for monitoring international defense cooperation said in a statement on Monday, refuting claims by an Iranian official reported Sunday that the system was already being delivered.

“Military-technical cooperation with Iran is conducted on a planned basis corresponding with agreements signed earlier and in observance of all international obligations,” the agency, the Federal Military and Technical Cooperation Service, said in a statement posted on its Web site.

“Information that has appeared in several media outlets about deliveries of the S-300 anti-aircraft system to Iran does not correspond to reality,” the statement said.

“Reality” is a rather amorphous concept when applied to Russia’s dealings with the mullahs. Considering the conflicting imperatives — to poke the United States in the eye, to preserve plausible deniability, to make a healthy profit, and to suppress the rise of Islamic extremism in Russia — it’s not surprising that all these different versions of reality arise.

The S-300, called the SA-20 in the West, is a surface-to-air missile system that can track aircraft and fire at them from more than 100 miles away.

Iran’s IRNA news agency on Sunday quoted the Iranian official, Esmail Kosari, deputy head of Parliament’s Commission for Foreign Affairs and National Security, as saying, “After a few years of talks with Russia, now the S-300 system is being delivered.”

So Iran says one thing, and Russia says another. Which is true?
– – – – – – – –

Russia’s main weapons exporter, Rosoboronexport, said in a statement on Monday that Russia supplies Iran only with defensive weapons and weapons systems, including the Tor-M1 anti-aircraft system.

“Russia conducts military-technical cooperation with Iran in strict compliance with the international commitments of the Russian Federation according to current non-proliferation regimes, and cannot be a source of concern for other countries,” the statement on the company’s Web site says.

In September, amid reports that a deal on the sale of the weapons system was near, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Andrei Nesterenko, denied that Russia would sell the missile system to Iran. “We do not intend to supply those types of armaments to countries in the region,” he was quoted as saying in the semiofficial Fars news agency of Iran.

Tuan Jim offers his analysis of the situation:

I’ve read a number of different articles on the subject today — and none of them seem to be saying the same thing. One agency says this (equipment is purchased, not shipped), one company representative says that (equipment is ordered but not assembled), a different ministry says something else (waiting on Iranian money before doing anything), one government rep (Iranian or Russian — it doesn’t matter) says something different (agreement hasn’t been signed yet). And of course the Iranians have said that they’ve already taken delivery — which ALL of the Russian accounts have denied.

Now I haven’t been following the entire story in its entirety or bothered to research anything, so it’s tough to say if this is intentional disinformation on one part or another, or if one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, or if it’s all a play by Putin and/or Ahmadinejad to sow confusion within the West. Could be one or more or none of the above. That’s not really a clarification on anything, but it might explain some of the seemingly contradictory news stories coming out — I read multiple conflicted reports all being posted by the ITAR-TASS Russian news agency today.

I’ll let Sir Winston Churchill have the last word on this topic:

I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.

That key is Russian national interest.

2 thoughts on “The Moscow-Tehran Axis

  1. “That key is Russian national interest.”

    Ya, maybe…up to 50 000 people might be participants of that national interest.

    Now you have to deal with 2 treacherous entities. What you cannot imagine is that those treacherous entities are treacherous not only outwardly, but also inwardly. Same with saddams Iraq. At some levels of the administration you could easily have lot of WMD, somewhere else not. Or Tudjmans Croatia – you had so many secret services that only counting them posed a serious problem to the Croatian nationbuilders. One might think that the number of secret services should not exceed the number of inhabitants of Croatia. But it could be simply in patriotic national interest of Croatia that every citizen starts at least one secret service. You are never sure how secret is your first one. Then automatically you start building more of them – to make your country safer and better. One day you might be unable to count your own secret services…being too secretive and scared about all you might know.

    On that happy day you can cut the safety in your country with your knife like ripened cheese.

  2. Considering the two antagonistic countries involved, I say they are both lying.
    That aside, a more recent report states that:
    “Russia’s state arms export agency said Monday it is supplying Iran with defensive weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, but did not say whether they include sophisticated long-range S-300 missiles.

    State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the U.S. is seeking clarification from Russia.
    There have been indications that Russia intends to supply only defensive weapons to Iran, thus keeping in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions that impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment and prohibit supplying Iran with materials that could contribute to its nuclear program.

    Officials acknowledge that the sale of the S-300 system is not prohibited by the resolution.
    Yep, that clears things up.
    They are both lying…again.

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