Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 54

In remarks to reporters yesterday in Moscow, however, Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov appeared to downplay the report that Russia might be willing to curtail its nuclear cooperation with Iran. The Russian minister, a former head of NIKIET who has aggressively promoted the sale of Russian nuclear technology abroad, said that Moscow would in fact seek to widen its activities in Iran. That means, he said, that Russia will step up the pace of its construction work at the Bushehr site. Moscow will also reportedly continue to explore with Tehran the possibility of building additional reactors for Iran (Reuters, Russian agencies, March 17). Adamov did say that he had–sometime last year–ordered the two Russian institutes in question to sever their contacts with Iran. U.S. officials believe that their cooperation is continuing, however.

Russian-Iranian cooperation in the areas of nuclear power and missile development has long been a prime irritant in Russian-U.S. relations. In general, Moscow has dismissed U.S. (and Israeli) allegations that various Russian institutes, possibly operating without the knowledge of the Russian government, have been responsible for leaking key Russian technologies to Iran. They have also described U.S. objections to Russian-Iranian cooperation as unwarranted interference in Russia’s affairs. Indeed, the close ties between Moscow and Tehran have in the eyes of many Russian officials come to symbolize Russia’s defiance of the United States. It remains unclear whether Moscow’s desperate need for Western financial assistance–to be the key issue during Primakov’s visit to the United States–is enough to compel Moscow to limit its ties to Iran. Adamov’s remarks yesterday suggest that it will not.