By Javad Heirannia

Great powers seeking to court Iran as a valuable partner: expert 

May 25, 2016

TEHRAN - In view of distrust between major powers Iran is economically and geographically in a position to improve its influence in the world, a political scholar says.

“Iran is well positioned to improve its influence with all of the great powers as they grow more mistrustful of one another,” Robert R. Bianchi, professor of Shanghai International Studies University, tells the Tehran Times. 
Bianchi says, “Iran’s economic and geographic importance makes it a valuable partner that American, European, Russian, and Chinese leaders are eager to win over.”
Following is the full text of the interview:
Q: What is the purpose of United States’ decision to establish the missile defense shield in Romania? Can we see this event as NATO’s expansion into the East?
A: The U.S. missile defense base in Romania is part of the more intense arm wrestling between Washington and Moscow in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Both sides are flexing their muscles and jostling for position. Putin is reasserting Russian power and Obama is pushing back, but neither wants to threaten the mutual nuclear deterrence that undergirds their relationship. Russia and the U.S. will accuse one another of aggressive intentions and grasp every opportunity to upgrade their fighting abilities. Putin will force Obama to invest greater resources in defending Europe and the Middle East instead of shifting his attention to the East Asian-Pacific theater. 

“The U.S. missile defense base in Romania is part of the more intense arm wrestling between Washington and Moscow in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.”
Q: What will be the impact of the defense shield on Iranian security?
A: These developments provide China a double benefit—stalling the American return to the Pacific and making Russia more dependent on Beijing’s assistance to break Western economic sanctions. Iran is well positioned to improve its influence with all of the great powers as they grow more mistrustful of one another. Iran’s economic and geographic importance makes it a valuable partner that American, European, Russian, and Chinese leaders are eager to win over. As long as Tehran is neither too hostile toward nor too dependent upon a single world power, it should be able to benefit from all of them. 
Q: Do you think NATO will become weak if Britain exits the European Union?
A: Uncertainty over the EU does not necessarily weaken NATO. With or without the UK, the EU will struggle with nationalist and protectionist divisions for many years. NATO survives because Russia is still the dominant military power in the eastern hemisphere and because its current rulers are ardent nationalists who frighten their neighbors. In this context, a weaker EU is likely to generate more desire for a stronger NATO that holds an American shield against renewed pressures from Moscow.  

 

 

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