Paris, 15 Oct. (IPS) Russian President Vladimir Putin is to arrive in Tehran on Tuesday 16 October for what political analysts believe would be his most important, perilous, high-risk trips ever made during the whole of his presidency, one that can be a demonstration of his diplomatic skills in brinkmanship, or a very sad ending to an otherwise successful leadership.
“Success in Tehran could look like the final bouquet in Putin's eight years of fireworks as Russia's President. It would further boost chances of Putin's party, just weeks before the Russian general election, after which he plans to seek the premiership. A diplomatic coup in Tehran could restore part of Russia's prestige in the Middle East. "Russia the peacemaker" as opposed to "America the warmonger" would resonate well with many constituencies in the region, in Europe and even in the United States”, Mr. Amir Taheri, one of Iran’s most internationally known journalist wrote in the pan-Arab, Saudi-owned newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat, based in London.
Success in Tehran could look like the final bouquet in Putin's eight years of fireworks as Russia's President
Officially, Mr. Putin, the first post Soviet Union President to visit Iran, is in Tehran to take part in the Summit of the Caspian Sea states, namely Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
But that event has been almost eclipsed by the Iranian controversial nuclear issue that, in the last five years, has been one of the world’s most important problems, one that, if not solved in the coming months, might erupt in a war with unthinkable consequences for the volatile Middle East and Persian Gulf regions and possibly the whole world.
Not certain about the finality of the Iranian nuclear activities – the United States and Israel insisting that it is aimed at building atomic weapons to destroy the Jewish State, an accusation that Iran fully rejects --, the United Nations Security Council, as well as the its nuclear watchdog, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are urging Tehran to show goodwill by stopping its uranium enrichment programmes during the period it is negotiating with the Security Council’s five permanent members, plus Germany, to find a solution to the problem.
So far, Tehran’s response had been a clear and “niet” to suspending nuclear activities while repeating its “readiness” for continuing talks with the IAEA and ignoring the two resolutions passed by the Security Council against Iran as “illegal”.
“Nuclear energy is our national and legal right; it is demanded by our people. Our nuclear programme is a train that has no brake or rear gear. It will go, ahead and no one can stop it”, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the fanatic Iranian President has stressed.
Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenehi can be the peace-maker or the war-monger
Having in mind that Moscow is probably the only nation that has serious “persuasive” cards to play against Iran, the world’s major powers, willingly or unwillingly, deliberately or not, in coordination with each other or not, have endorsed Mr. Putting with the difficult task to persuade the ruling Iranian ayatollahs to come forward, meeting the demands from the international community.
In their recent meetings with Mr. Putin, French President Nicolas Sakozy, American secretaries of States and Defence, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have exhorted the Russian leader to encourage Iranian decision-makers to stop ignoring Security Council’s demands, to become more flexible and agree to the “time out” proposed by the IAEA,’s Chief Mohammad Elbaradai to both Iran and the 5+1, namely the United States, England, France, Russia China and Germany.
Russia, with China as the supporting actor, is the main power that opposes the hard line America is pushing against Iran, with France as the supporting actor. Moscow is Iran’s major military supplier, including 21 advanced Tor M-1 radars worth 700 Million US Dollars; relatively modern passenger aircrafts for its crippled national airline and above all, building Iran’s first nuclear power plant.
According to Moscow, exaggerating pressures and menacing Iran with bombing not only are counterproductive, but it would also undermine the 5+1’s efforts to reach with Iran what the 6 (The United States, Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas have achieved with Pyongyang.
Khamenehi agreeing to suspend the enrichment programme would mean political suicide for Ahmadinejad
“Mr. Putin should draw the attention of the Khomeinist leaders to the fact that the two UN Security Council resolutions passed with regard to the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities cannot be ignored forever. These resolutions can be cancelled only with another Security Council resolution stating that the matter is resolved. The issue cannot be fudged”, Mr. Taheri suggested.
“Putin will tell Iranians that Russia accepts Iran's right to use nuclear energy but wants it to open up its nuclear programme to international inspectors to prove it is peaceful”, Kremlin deputy spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, quoted by the British news agency Reuters. "Putin is going to Iran to show the importance of continuing diplomacy", he added.
In fact, speaking to journalists in the German city of Wiesbaden during a joint press conference with Mrs. Merkel on Sunday, Mr. Putin said he expects that Russian diplomatic efforts with Iran to produce "positive results", and stressed that he would be talking to the Iranians on behalf of the international community.
Analysts say the Bushehr plant could become a major bargaining chip. "I think Putin may propose to Iranians giving up uranium enrichment in exchange for Russian fuel for Bushehr", Rajab Safarov, head of the Centre of Iranian Studies, said.
Officially, the 1000 megawatts plant that has cost the Iranians over 1.2 USD billions instead of the original 600 millions was to go on steam this past September, but while the Russian constructor says it is behind the completion because of delays in payments by Tehran, diplomats have made it clear that the project would not be completed unless the Iranian nuclear standoff with the international community is not solved.
Success in Tehran for Putin might mean political suicide for Ahmadinejad
Iran does not have any nuclear power plants and thus does not need any enriched uranium for use as fuel. And as far as the Bushehr plant is concerned, Russia must provide all the fuel it needs for the duration of its entire life span of 37 years.
Putin would have to tell frankly and clearly to Ayatollah Khamenehi that if he leaves Tehran empty hands, he would have no other choice than to end his support for the Iranian cause and joint the club of hard liners that push for harsher sanctions on Iran. It's a make it or break it, up to you to decide.
For some Iran watchers however, on the domestic level, a triumph for the Russian President, meaning Iran’s agreeing to suspend the enrichment programme would mean political suicide for Ahmadinejad, as he has made the nuclear energy a national issue, likening it to the nationalization of oil by Iran in 1953.
“With all the cards he has in his hand, Mr. Putin, when he meets Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, the Iranian leader who takes and dictates all the regime’s major decisions in domestic and foreign issues, should be able to persuade his host that either he compromises with the international community by suspending uranium enriching activities for few months, or take the responsibility of a war that would devastate the whole of the Middle East-Persian Gulf regions, ruin his own country and kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocents, political analysts said. ENDS PUTIN IRANIAN VISIT 151007