Iran nuclear accord: Russia’s Foreign Ministry has welcomed the deal over Iran’s nuclear program that was struck in Lausanne yesterday, saying that it would help the security situation in the Middle East as Tehran would now be able to take a more active part in conflict resolution in the region. Under the terms of the deal, Iran has agreed to shut more than two-thirds of its installed centrifuges capable of producing uranium that could be used to build a bomb; dismantle a reactor that could produce plutonium; and accept intrusive verification. In return, a whole raft of UN-imposed sanctions are due to be lifted, including a ban on the supply of heavy weaponry and nuclear-related technology to Iran: a block on arms export: and an asset freeze on key individuals and companies.
It will also see the EU, remove their own set of sanctions which currently include restrictions on trade in equipment which could be used for uranium enrichment: an asset freeze on a list of individuals and organisations that the EU believed were helping advance the nuclear programme: a ban on them entering the EU: a ban on any transactions with Iranian banks and financial institutions: and a ban on the import, purchase and transport of Iranian crude oil and natural gas (the EU had previously accounted for 20% of Iran’s oil exports). European companies were also stopped from insuring Iranian oil shipments.(BBC)
While the Foreign Ministry’s words sound altruistic, President Vladimir Putin has other motives for backing the deal, according to some commentators. “Russia wants to reassemble as much of the Soviet Union as it can.… Iran wishes to replace the current order in the Middle East, led by Saudi Arabia and dominated by Sunni Arab states, with one centered on Tehran,” Bard College’s Walter Russel Mead argued in an essay in Foreign Affairs magazine last year.“Leaders in all three countries also agree that U.S. power is the chief obstacle to achieving their revisionist goals.”
Exactly what the economic ramifications of the deal will be for Russia, remains to be seen. If the deal sticks it will introduce a major new player in to the energy supply market, with some analysts suggesting Iran could become an oil and gas power on par with Saudi Arabia.
Not particularly good news for mainstays of the Russian economy like Gazprom, who are already feeling the effects of plummeting oil prices and who are getting ready to face stiff competition with a decade from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan once the TANAP pipeline connects Europe to the offshore fields in the Caspian Sea via Turkey.