Saturday, December 03, 2005

Iran Girds for Showdown

Iran is assuming a militaristic posture as it girds for a showdown with the west over their attempts to achieve nuclear capabilities. On Saturday, Iran's Guardian Council approved a bill that would prevent UN inspections of its nuclear facilities if the issue is referred to the Security Council. All that remains for passage is the signature of Iran's hard-line president. (ABC: Iran OKs Bill to Block Nuclear Inspections).

While publicly preparing for this standoff with the UN, Iran has also just inked a deal with Russia to purchase $1 billion worth of anti-aircraft missiles, a move that has angered the US and EU. (Star Tribune: Russia may sell missiles to Iran). There can be little doubt as to the reason for this purchase since an inspections stand-off with the UN will likely lead to air-strikes against Tehran.

Russia's duplicity with regards to Iran is most disturbing. Having recently been approved by both the US and EU as a mediator in the current nuclear talks stand-offs, this sale of weapons to Iran is a clear indication of where Russia's loyalties truly lie. Russia is well aware of the reaction this will generate in the west. "I expect that Russia's decision to supply the complexes to Iran will meet a negative reaction from the West, but this criticism will be of a political rather than legal character," said the head of Russia's parliamentary foreign affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev.

Sale of weapons to a state that openly sponsors terrorism like Iran is tantamount to arming the terrorists. What Russia has just done is no different than if the US started selling arms to Chechen rebels. What the US must make clear to Russia is that any attack on US warplanes by Iranian missiles that were purchased from Russia will be considered an attack on the US by Russia. A nation that sells arms to our enemies is our enemy.

Since his election, Putin - a former KGB hardliner - has gone out of his way to invigor the old cold-war mentality that divided the former USSR from the west. He has increasingly sought a confrontational role with the US and appears to be succeeding in destroying the relationship that developed under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Putin is a throwback to the Kruschev and Brezhnev days and we certainly need to react accordingly. Russia is in no economic position to challenge the US, but it appears they need a stark reminder of that sobering fact. It's time to slam the door economically on Putin and remind him why the Soviet Union is now only a name on some very old maps.


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