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                                        Volume. 11957

Russian economic cooperation with Iran to counter Western sanctions
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Iran and Russia are completing their preparation for the "oil for food" barter deal worth $20 billion. That news from the Western press almost coincided with the end of another round of talks in Vienna dedicated to the Iranian nuclear problem. 
 
Both Teheran and the six negotiators, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, have stated that the positions of the sides are gradually coming together. According to Beijing's opinion, it became possible due to Russia's constructive role.
 
The economic deal between Iran and Russia was first discussed in January. According to that agreement, Moscow would buy up to 500 thousand barrels of oil per day (possibly for rials). In exchange, Teheran would get food products and equipment, which would make the burden of the Western oil embargo less heavy on Iran. Now some details of the deal have come to light. Many documents for that deal are already prepared. What needs to be clarified is the price for the oil to be used in the calculations, which should be lower than the world prices. A Russian company, which is currently not present at the international market, would be getting the oil. According to the Iranian side, some supplies of "weapons" are also included in the deal.
 
The bilateral economic cooperation would strengthen Teheran's position at the negotiations with the six major world powers, thinks Petr Topychkanov, an expert at the Center for International Security of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
 
"Apparently, Iran will use that to demonstrate to the West that it is not suffering from the sanctions that badly. From that point of view it can come up with a much firmer position in future talks on its nuclear program," he said.
 
The West is unlikely to be happy with that barter deal, but will not be able to help it. If the sanctions against Teheran are escalated, one cannot exclude the possibility that it would stop the dialogue on the nuclear problem. In brief, the agreement being prepared is in Teheran's interests.
 
What about Russia's interests? After the events in Crimea the U.S. and the EU introduced sanctions against it as well, although symbolic so far. Can the West be prevented from taking new punitive measures by let's say including S-300 surface-to-air missile systems in the barter deal? Boris Dolgov, an expert at the Institute for Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, supposes that they can be transferred to Iran if that is needed.
 
"Earlier Russia refused to supply these missiles. But this type of weapons is classified as defense weapons. It is possible that they will be supplied," he said.
 
Expert Petr Topychkanov is of a different opinion. Talking about the complexes would cause a negative reaction in Europe and the U.S., which would prevent them from moving from anti-Russian sanctions to a constructive dialogue on Ukraine.
 
"There has appeared a rumor that in the light of the deteriorating relations with the West Russia can sell S-300 to Iran. Moscow can show its readiness to send such weapons to Iran. But the decision to supply S-300 systems would be made not to counter the West and not in relation to Moscow's relations with Washington or Brussels," he said.
 
Russia has another powerful instrument related to the Iranian issue, which is already at work. That was why the West was so careful in introducing sanctions against it, continues the expert.
 
"The West, primarily the U.S., is interested in having Iran stop developing its nuclear program and be ready to limit it in the future. Neither the U.S. nor the European Union could reach that goal without Russia. That is a really strong trump in Moscow's hands. Moscow can hinder further talks with Iran and the signing of any document on its nuclear program. Another issue is whether it would be in Moscow's interests and what it would give us. But it is a fact that we do have such an instrument of pressure on the West," he said.
 
At the latest round of talks the parties agreed to meet again on May 13-16 in Vienna in order to start working on a comprehensive agreement to resolve the Iranian nuclear program issue. The term of the current intermediate agreement signed in November 2013 expires on July 20. According to that agreement, Iran agreed to temporarily stop some types of nuclear activity in exchange for some lifting of the sanctions. But the equipment to enrich uranium has not been dismantled, so the Iranians could resume that work at any moment. According to some experts, there still is a chance to reach the final resolution by July 20, although it isn't great.
 
(Source: Voice of Russia)

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