Why Does Russia Fear Iran’s Nuclear Deal?
Posted By: Polina TikhonovaPosted date: May 19, 2015 09:25:17 AM
The framework deal on Iran’s nuclear program is far from being realized and has numerous hiccups and enemies attached to it. However, most of media and political experts discuss it as a sealed deal. They even talk about its consequences. Most of them are talking about Saudi Arabia and Israel’s fate. And, of course, there are some analysts who have concerns over the relations between Iran and Russia.
Most of the experts believe that the deal itself is unfavorable for Russia, and that Moscow would like to keep Iran under sanctions. Undoubtedly, Russia is interested in keeping the current status quo for as long as it’s possible, which had a lot of limitations imposed on Iran and Moscow was the only partner for Tehran.
However, it must be pointed out that such status quo was extremely volatile and the situation could spiral to either a direct war between the US and Iran or a war in Syria. And no matter how the war would have ended, it would destabilize the Middle East and the global economy as a whole. That’s why the framework deal is the least evil of all for Russia.
It must be understood, however, that the Iran framework deal doesn’t mean a Russia’s sudden rapprochement with Iran from one side, and with the West from the other. As for the US, it’s difficult to predict any sudden renewal of economic relations as they have been deteriorated ever since the Iranian revolution.
And the two countries can’t really establish relations anew as it must be first approved by the Congress, while the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran is not even in the cards now. The US President Barack Obama will consider himself lucky if he can at least convince the Republican Congress to not halt the nuclear deal.
The Europeans are going to attempt entering the Iranian market and drive out the Russian as well as Chinese companies. However, the Iran’s interest of having close cooperation with Europe should not be exaggerated.
The majority of Iranian establishment backs the talks efforts only because it wants the economic sanctions to be lifted. The Iranian conservators are not interested in building close political-economic relations with the West. They believe that the more Iran opens up to the Western world, the more chances for the country to have a ‘color revolution’, which would bring down the current regime in place.
According to other political experts, another Russia’s fear is that lifting the sanctions against Iran would result in entering of external markets by the Iranian fossil fuels, which therefore would lower their prices.
And the experts are partially right – well, at least when it comes to crude oil – the Iranians have promised to dramatically increase the export of crude oil right after the sanctions are lifted.
As of now, Iran exports about 1 million barrels of oil a day and after the sanctions are lifted, it plans to double the number and even come back to the pre-sanction number of exporting 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.
According Mohsen Qamsari, the director for international affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Iran can ship almost half of the supplies of oil that it provided to the European market before.
“The contracts will be clinched on the basis of spot deals until the European clients finish their existing annual import contracts and are ready for new contracts,” Qamsari said.
However, the only possible hiccup for the crude oil export might be a gradual, not the ‘full and at once’, lifting of the sanctions as well as Iran’s unwillingness to sell oil at such a low price.
As a matter of fact, as Saudi Arabia privatized the Iranian quota, Iran might try to take it back either through the process of talks or through destabilizing the situation in Yemen as well as Saudi Arabia.
As for the export of the Iranian oil to EU through the Nabucco-West pipeline, which is an ‘enemy’ to Gazprom, experts claim that it would become possible only in a decade or so.
Iran must build a pipeline network from its South deposits to the Turkish border, normalize its relations with Turkey, improve energy efficiency of its production sector in order to not consumer so much gas. However, a lot might change within the next 10 years, especially given the fact that this is the Middle East we are talking about.
And finally, another Russia’s fear is that after Iran is liberated from the sanctions, Russia is going to lose a significant share of its influence in the Middle East. Until recently, it really seemed so: Iran was the main partner of Russia in the region, and the inevitable worsening of the relations between Moscow and Tehran after Russia stopped being a single-source partner, would decrease Russia’s presence in the Middle East.
The number of nuclear clients of Russia is also decreasing by the second. Ukraine, which has been the top client of the Russia’s nuclear sector, is posed to develop a cooperation with the US companies in order to upgrade its own nuclear infrastructure.
However, during the last couple of years, Russian authorities have managed to find alternative partners largely thanks to its unhinged position on Syria’s matters. Russia has been reached out by countries – such as Egypt – that are looking to diversify their relations with the US. Furthermore, Russia has managed to improve its diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf countries.
So now, Iran is particularly not interested in ending relations with Russia and letting it freely operate in the region.