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Iran's Intelligence Ministry Urges Moving Away From Russia

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

Iran's Intelligence Ministry has called for a "decrease" in ties with Russia, according to Hossein Ebrahimi, a parliament deputy and a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.

Ebrahimi told the semiofficial ILNA news agency that the demand was discussed during a meeting between committee members and officials of the Intelligence Ministry.

He said lawmakers favor reducing ties with Russia as well as China because of their support for the June 9 UN resolution that imposed new sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its sensitive nuclear activities. 

Ebrahimi added, however, that because representatives from all decision-making bodies were not present at the meeting, a common decision on the issue was not reached.

"China and Russia gave priority to their own interests over their relations with us. Therefore, ties with these countries will definitely change, but we need a comprehensive study on how to proceed," Ebrahimi was quoted as saying.

Tehran is angry at Moscow's decision to freeze the sale of the S-300 missile-defense system.

Tehran is also angry at Russia's decision to freeze a deal to send the S-300 air-defense missile system to the Islamic Republic. 

The head of the Iran-Russia Parliamentary Friendship Committee, Mehdi Sanae'i, was quoted as saying on June 24 that "Moscow's failure to deliver the air-defense missile system to Tehran would not only hinder cooperation between the two states, but also damage the country's status in finding new partners in the region."

Defense Minister Saeed Vahidi has also called on Russia to adhere to a 2007 agreement between the two countries on the delivery of the S-300 missile system to Tehran. 

Earlier this week, U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs William Burns said that the Russians have given their assurances that they would not deliver the system in accordance with UN sanctions.

Tensions between Russia and Iran came to public attention last month after Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad criticized Russia for supporting a new round of UN sanctions and said that interpreting Russia's behavior "has become more and more difficult for us." 

"Our people don't know if [the Russians] are our friends, on our side, or after something different," Ahmadinejad said.

Despite the tensions, Russia has said that the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which it is building in southwestern Iran, will begin operating in August. The launch of the plant has been delayed several times in recent years.

Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asfghar Soltanieh, said on June 15 that Iran has reached the conclusion that Russia's delay in launching Bushehr is "also politically motivated," pointing to Russia's vote in favor of new sanctions against Iran.

"Of course, there may exist some technical complications, but it is hard to believe that these technical issues have continued to postpone the completion of the plant over the past 15 years," Soltanieh said, adding that the Bushehr plant was originally scheduled to be completed in no more than five years.

More delays in the launch of the Bushehr plant are likely to increase tensions between the two countries.

Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

... Payvand News - 06/29/10 ... --

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