Downturn in British-Iran Relations is Par for the Course
September 16, 2003
LONDON -- The souring of Anglo-Iranian ties over Tehran's nuclear intentions and the arrest in London of a one-time Iranian diplomat suspected of terrorism comes as little surprise to foreign policy analysts.
"British-Iranian relations do tend to go up and down," said Rosemary Hollis, a Middle East expert at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a major foreign policy think tank in London.
"There are sensitivities that are just part of the landscape," she told AFP.
"The prevalance of the conspiracy theory in Iran that the British are behind everything... You find an astonishing number of Iranians who think that the British even manipulate Washington."
Britain has been at the forefront of calls by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for Iran to fully respond to concerns about its nuclear programme by October 31.
Relations have also soured over the arrest in August of a former Iranian ambassador to Buenos Aires, Hade Soleimanpur, who is wanted in Argentina for the July 1984 car bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 in the Argentine capital.
Soleimanpur, now studying tourism at an English university, was released on bail last week pending extradition proceedings.
Britain is also pressuring Iran to fulfill its "obligations" to protect its embassy in Tehran, following the third known shooting incident at the mission within a month.
Hollis traced the on-off relationship between London and Tehran to the early days of the 20th century, when the then-mighty British Empire played a major role in developing its oil industry.
Britain occupied part of Iran during World War II, and supplied valuable intelligence to the United States during the 1953 coup against Mohammed Mossadegh, the prime minister who had nationalized Iran's oil industry.
"British-Iranian relations improved in the second half of the 1990s" after they strived to overcome the legacy of Iran's menacing "fatwa" or death order against British author Salman Rushdie, Hollis said.
More recently, Britain was seen as striving to build diplomatic bridges with Iran -- branded by US President George W. Bush as part of an "axis of evil" -- in a clear bid to lend support to reformists in the Islamic republic.
Gary Saymore, director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said he believed Iranians were looking at Soleimanpur's arrest "as part of a bigger conspiracy" by the United States and Britain to put pressure to bear on Tehran.
"Tehran has a very ambivalent relation with the United Kingdom," he told AFP on Tuesday.
"On the one hand, they hope that their relationship with the UK will help reduce American hostility," he said. "On the other hand, the UK is a 'little Satan,' seen as a potentially hostile ally of the United States."
Saymore, an expert on non-proliferation, believed Iran is "still a few years away" from being able to develop nuclear weapons.
"From their standpoint, it makes more sense to cooperate now to buy time, so that they can complete their (nuclear) facility under IAEA safeguards and under the Non-Proliferation Treaty," he said.
"Once they leave the treaty, that obviously exposes them to political pressure and even military attack coming from the United States and Israel," he added
In any event, Iran's attention now is primarily on domestic politics, Saymore said.
"There are going through a period of adjustment... They are obviously some very serious internal strains (and) they would like to have peace and quiet so they can focus on domestic issues." http://www.spacewar.com/2003/030916170041.c4l7g0h6.html
U.S. Says Russia Sold Arms to Iran
By Lyuba Pronina Staff Writer
The United States on Tuesday accused Russia of supplying arms to "state sponsors of terrorism," chiefly Iran, and slapped sanctions on a Russian defense company.
The charges -- which mirror U.S. accusations concerning Baghdad after the Iraq war started -- appear to be an attempt to pressure Moscow over its cooperation with Tehran, analysts said.
"The United States government has determined that the government of Russia transferred lethal military equipment to countries determined by the secretary of state to be state sponsors of terrorism," the U.S. State Department said in a notice published in the Federal Register.
A State Department official said the decision -- made Aug. 25 but announced only Tuesday -- was connected to the sale of laser-guided Krasnopol-M artillery shells to Iran.
He said sanctions have been imposed for one year on KBP Tula, the maker of the shells. KBP Tula is a state-owned company that produces anti-aircraft and anti-tank missile systems.
The sanctions bar KBP Tula from doing business with the U.S. government and from buying U.S. defense equipment.
KBP Tula said Tuesday that the sanctions were meaningless since it has no business in the United States and suggested that they were a warning to Moscow.
"This may be a way to put political pressure on the country," KBP Tula deputy chief engineer Andrei Morozov said by telephone from Tula.
He said KBP Tula does not have any contracts with Iran and has never sent it any arms.
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, agreed that Tuesday's charges carried political overtones. "This is some kind of political game," he said.
The accusations came a day before U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was to arrive in Moscow to attend an international nonproliferation conference and less than two weeks before U.S. President George W. Bush hosts President Vladimir Putin at a summit at Camp David.
The timing may have something to do with U.S.-Russian differences over Iran's nuclear capacity and could be a message to Moscow that "the U.S. is very concerned about Iran and is willing to pick at anything," said Ivan Safranchuk, director of the Moscow office of the Washington-based Center for Defense Information.
In addition, with the gap closing on Moscow's and Washington's positions over the Iranian nuclear issue, the White House may be testing whether the Kremlin is willing to yield on other positions, such as on the sale of conventional weapons, Safranchuk said.
In 2000, Russia pulled out of a 1995 Gore-Chernomyrdin deal under which it agreed not to deliver weapons to Iran. Analysts predicted at the time that Iran might become Russia's third largest client after China and India, but aside from a batch of helicopters and armored personnel carriers, there have been no reports of arms deliveries.
Washington has been most concerned about Russia's role in helping Iran build its nuclear industry through the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. To address concerns that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, Russia has said it will freeze construction of the $1 billion plant and not supply any fuel unless Iran agrees to return all spent fuel.
The State Department official said Tuesday that the new charges were not connected to Iran's nuclear program or the Bush-Putin summit.
"I would not read into the timing," he said, speaking by telephone from Washington. "It is not linked to the upcoming summit and not designed to introduce any sour notes into the meeting."
He refused to say how the United States had learned about the Iran deal or when it was believed to have taken place. "We would not like to go into this. It is a sensitive issue," he said.
The finding means that Washington could have imposed sanctions on Russia, a move that would cut off all U.S. assistance to the country. The State Department, however, said it had decided this would not serve the national interests of the United States.
The United States directly accused the Russian government of supplying arms to "state sponsors of terrorism" last September and slapped sanctions on three Russian defense companies, including Tula KBP.
In 1999, the State Department placed sanctions on Tula KBP for the first time, after the company delivered Kornet anti-tank missiles to Syria.
In late March, Bush complained that Tula KBP and another Russian defense company had supplied Iraq with anti-tank guided missiles, GPS jammers and night-vision goggles in violation of UN sanctions. Moscow, along with Berlin and Paris, was fiercely opposed to a war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and the U.S. complaint was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Russia into softening its stance.
KBP Tula has the right to export arms independently from state-owned arms mediator Rosoboronexport. It delivered $350 million worth of arms last year.
posted on 09/16/2003 6:10:50 PM PDT
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Life isn't fair. It's fairer than death, is all.")
Russian and Iranian officials failed during a September 5th meeting in Moscow to agree on a date for signing an agreement on returning spent fuel from the Bushehr nuclear reactor to Russia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports. Under pressure from the U.S. and other countries worried about North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Russia -- which is helping Iran build the Bushehr reactor -- is demanding that the Islamic Republic return the spent fuel. Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry says it will not start delivering fuel for Bushehr until such an agreement is reached.
Bush apparently has communicated concern to Pooty-Poot re the Islamic Bomb. No more invitations to Crawford barbecues without a stricter accounting of rods.
Perhaps similar pressures account for the reported movement of three Chinese divisions to the DPRK's border.
Syria is getting attention as well.
posted on 09/16/2003 8:52:18 PM PDT
(Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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