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Thursday, October 27, 2011


Yesterday, Jonathan Tobin at Commentary wrote:

With the International Atomic Energy Agency set to release a new report next month detailing Iran’s efforts to create a nuclear weapon, Tehran’s main protector in the international community is making a last ditch effort to squelch the watchdog group’s efforts to blow the whistle on this threat.

Russia announced today it opposed the IAEA’s plans to publish a report about the military implications of Iran’s illegal push for nukes.

Tobin goes on to write:

Since the beginning of the last decade, Iran has played Western diplomats for fools with Russian assistance.

While Tobin conceded that “the Russians have as much reason to fear a nuclear Iran as anyone else”, Tobin claimed that Russian support for Iran was because Prime Minister Putin “believes anything that thwarts American foreign policy goals constitutes a win for his government”.

This didn’t seem to make any sense. On the one hand Tobin – as well as other neocons and their allies – is accusing Russia of helping Iran cover up what they think is Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, while at the same time saying that a nuclear-armed Iran would not be in Russia’s interest any more than anyone elses. Why would they help Iran cover up their so-called nuclear weapons program?

In order to clarify Tobin’s stance, I emailed him. I wrote:

What you are saying, Jonathan, is tantamount to suggesting that Russia is complicit in aiding Iran to become nuclear armed. I wonder, can you explain how a nuclear armed Iran would be in Russia's interest?And, even if it were in Russia's interest, would it not be easier for Russia to simply supply Iran with the nuclear arms you say it seeks?

His response was even more confusing than his article. He replied:

As I wrote, a nuclear Iran is not in Russia's interest. But its delight in thwarting American policy aims seems to trump common sense in this case. Russia has been Iran's chief enabler in international diplomacy as their effort to suppress the IAEA report shows. While Russia knows better than to give Iran nukes, a Middle East in which Iran displaces the U.S. as a power is one that they may think they can live with.

The response provided more questions than answers. I wrote back to him saying:

May I take this a little further since your reasoning seems to be contradictory. We can agree that a nuclear armed Iran is not in Russia's interest, but how can Iran 'displace the US as a power' without being nuclear armed? And, if it's not in Russia's interest, how is it that Russia could 'live with' that?

I’m still, not unsurprisingly, awaiting his reply.

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