Is Iran Russia's Nuclear Proxy?
Excellent article. A few Paragraphs:
FP: What is the state of the Iranian support axis: Russia and China? What threats does it represent?
Schippert: The state of the axis is good, strong – and strengthening – and mutually beneficial, particularly for the Iranian regime in the short term. I have and will continue to refer to Russia and China as the Iranian Protectorate. No nation at the UN Security Council has been more steadfast or consistent in resistance to US and Western sanctions efforts there than either the bear or the dragon.
The reasons for this are quite simple: Synergistic strategic advancement against a common enemy, oil and money.
Iran is rightly portrayed as one of the most pressing threats to the United States and her interests. But Iran remains in many respects a piece on the chessboard of a greater Russian and Chinese game.
Iran seeks greater power and regional dominance and enjoys the support of both Russia and China in its pursuits. Both afford Iran the protection of cover and interference at the UN Security Council and other diplomatic endeavors, allowing Iran to continue its nuclear efforts under a fairly comfortable security blanket.
For Russia, already sitting atop a major portion of the world's oil reserves, the gains are monetary and psychological, with Iran as a major arms client as well as its principle client in Russia's lucrative nuclear construction and supply market. The Bushehr plant construction alone was a $1 billion dollar deal, with the potential prospects of more in the relatively near future.
For China, the issue is one of energy. Just as the Russian supply of nuclear fuel began transit preparations within hours of the release of the December Iran NIE, China in turn immediately signed a massive long-term energy deal with Iran worth billions. Before the NIE, there was hesitance from China in signing an open deal.
The United States in particular had made specific demands for more sanctions against a recalcitrant Iran as well as public calls for other nations to specifically stop making energy agreements until Iran complies. Signing the energy deal before hand would have meant strained relations with lucrative trading partners and potential economic damage. China was patient, as it always is. And the NIE afforded them the diplomatic cover necessary to ink the deal, affording the oil-starved dragon energy relief and enriching the Iranian regime during economic plight.
All seek to weaken the United States to the point where each is enabled to act on their respective interests. Iran seeks regional dominance in the Gulf, the continued export of its Khomeinist revolution, and the destruction of Israel. Russia seeks the restoration of its pride, re-acquisition of the states lost in the breakup of the Soviet Union and restoration of its superpower status. China seeks to establish itself as the next superpower, to subdue and consume Taiwan, ensure its energy supply and to dominate South Asia and the Pacific rim. Each of them and their chosen paths are impeded by a sufficiently strong America.
FP: What do you make of Iran's invitation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?
Schippert: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was originally the manifestation of the Russian and Chinese rapprochement, a new strategic pact between historic enemies. It was publicly introduced as an anti-terrorism regional cooperative, looking to combine regional efforts to combat the thereat that terrorism posed to each participating state. But, while each may indeed have its own challenges posed by regional terrorism, The SCO has always been largely leveraged by Russia and China as an anti-US strategic cooperative, including security and economic aspects.
Some scoffed at this characterization, but how else can it be explained that a supposedly anti-terrorism regional security cooperative then later invites a prolific state sponsor of terrorism to be included in the strategic roll call? How is that anti- or counter-terrorism in nature?
It isn't. It is anti-United States and anti-West in nature. Iran, more directly than its protectors Russia and China, upon its invitation called the SCO an “anti-imperialist alliance,” in a era where 'imperialist' has been used as a parallel term for the United States.
FP: What policy do you recommend for the U.S. in facing this new axis?
Schippert: It truly is a three dimensional chessboard in both complexity and scope.
Compounding this is the sometimes schizophrenic nature of American Foreign Policy brought about by the regular peaceful transition of power brought about with every American election, particularly presidential elections. When an election results in a majority transition from one general world view to a different world view, the foreign policy changes can be dramatic.
With regard to the 'new axis' among Iran, Russia and China, we must avoid bi-polar sea changes in direction and effort and adopt a policy that recognizes these strategic competitors with consistency. Some may be enamored with phrases claiming to end the days of “cowboy diplomacy” and the like, but if ending this perception means fundamentally altering the approach to one or all in a 'kinder, gentler' manner, this will only serve to empower the alliance to further exploit an America (and the West) already nearing a refusal to act. They clearly have few such equivalent inhibitions.
For instance, China and Russia had some reluctance to ink a new oil and gas deal with Iran or supply enriched uranium for its reactors while its won enrichment program proceed unabated. But the words of one NIE reversed that in an instant. So too can the words outlining an outwardly weak foreign policy shift, and the words employed during its execution.
To the contrary, our foreign policy must be bolder, particularly with Iran. As it is, our Iran policy is impossible to define and left largely to interpretation.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Is Iran Russia's Nuclear Proxy?