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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Seeing Iranian Gains in the Caucasus

Council on Foreign Relations

September 12, 2008
Author: Greg Bruno

Fallout over Russia's military moves in Georgia has already sidelined (MSNBC) one area of nuclear cooperation between Washington and the Kremlin. Now, the chill has triggered speculation that a process of much more immediate importance—the UN Security Council's efforts to block Iran's uranium enrichment program—will suffer (CSMonitor).

Each fall for the last three years, the UN Security Council has ushered in a new round of sanctions. It has been prodded by the Bush administration and Western states concerned that Iran's program is a cover for a nuclear weapons program, a charge Iran denies. Russia, one of five permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council, begrudgingly went along with each previous round of sanctions. But with Washington pushing for a fourth round of sanctions, Moscow has warned that this year may be different. In an August interview with CNN, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested Russian cooperation on the Iranian nuclear issue has run its course. Gary Samore, CFR director of studies and an expert in nonproliferation, sees the crisis in the Caucasus as the impetus. "The Georgia situation is going to tremendously complicate any efforts for the U.S. to form an effective coalition against Iran."

To be sure, Moscow appears to share Washington's desire to keep a bomb out of Iranian hands. CFR Senior Fellow Ray Takeyh and Nikolas Gvosdev of the U.S. Naval War College predict that Russia will continue to support (BosGlobe) international efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, if only because Moscow sees current policy as beneficial to its security and economic interests. Meanwhile, Russia continues to support Iran's civilian nuclear program. On September 8, the Russian state-run company assembling Iran's first nuclear plant announced that after five years of delay, the facility at Bushehr is nearing completion (AP).

Read the rest of this article on the cfr.org website.

Copyright 2008 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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