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Short Cuts: Trading nuclear devices for a missile shield

A misplaced argument, sorta (photo via Flickr, NineFingers)

Russia’s Presidents Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Mahmud Ahmadinejad met in Tehran yesterday to discuss their relationship and the continued nuclear enrichment efforts of the Persian country. In the first visit of a Kremlin leader since 1943, Mr Putin showed strong support for the Iranian use of civilian nuclear energy and flattered his host by calling the country a “world power”. The Russian President also promised to complete the nuclear plant in Buschehr, to which Russia is contributing components, but declined to name a date for the delivery. This comes after there had been delays for which Russia cited Iranian payment problems as a reason.

In reality, holding back the final parts to the build-up of the Buschehr power plant is keeping the corridor open for UN negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program. It is also a precious asset in Russia’s hands for the coming negotiations with the USA, who want to implement defence missile shields in Eastern Europe. A deal could look like this: The United States agree to put the plans for their missile shield on hold (which would not hurt the developers, as it is not certain it would work the way it was planned, yet) and Russia uses its influence on Iran to be more open about their nuclear program, letting in more IAEA inspectors.

Yet, this is unlikely to happen in the current power constellation: With Iranian and American heads of state being stubborn with their missile/nuclear ambitions and a Russian president willing to bid the full value of his cards, the deadlock might continue for quite some time.

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