Russian Security Council deputy secretary Yury Deryabin met on December 22 in Moscow with an Iranian deputy foreign minister in order to discuss strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the Caucasus and Caspian regions. (Itar-Tass, December 22) Those talks follow on the heels of a three-day visit to Iran by Russian deputy prime minister and interior minister Anatoly Kulikov. On December 17, Kulikov signed a memorandum of understanding with his Iranian counterpart aimed at promoting cooperation between the Russian and Iranian Interior Ministries in the investigation of crimes and in the battle against arms and drug smugglers. They also agreed to increase informational exchanges between the two ministries and to hold working meetings and consultations.
During his visit, Kulikov also reportedly expressed Moscow’s gratitude for Iran’s "circumspect position on the Chechen issue." According to Kulikov, the Iranian leadership was responsible for preempting an attempt by Turkey to put discussion of Chechnya on the agenda at the recent summit meeting of the 55-member Organization of the Islamic Conference. (Russian agencies, December 17-19; Itar-Tass, December 22)
These latest contacts between Russia and Iran are part of a growing pattern of bilateral cooperation that has been opposed by the U.S. government. Moscow and Washington have clashed, in particular, over Russian plans to complete a nuclear power plant at the Bushehr site in Iran, over the alleged aid that Russian technicians are providing Iran in the development of a long-range ballistic missile, and over the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom’s participation in a French-led deal to develop an Iranian gas field. Moscow has denied any involvement in the Iranian missile project, and has made clear it will follow through on the other two projects despite Washington’s objections.
Work to Start on New Submarines.