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The latter scenario is certainly plausible. And as for Russia’s relationship with Iran, and intentions, there are indeed many reasons for distrust. Just two recent ones are Russia’s announcement earlier this month of plans to base heavy warships in Tartus, Mediterranean port of Iran’s ally Syria; and Russia’s leading role in undercutting the Western sanctions on Iran even after it voted in favor of them in the UN Security Council.
Beyond the issue of whether the startup of Bushehr creates a security threat in itself, however, looms the larger issue of what it means for the West’s effort to stop Iran’s nuclear progress.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry asserted on Sunday that “It is totally unacceptable that a country that blatantly violates decisions of the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and ignores its commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty charter, will enjoy the fruits of using nuclear energy.” The New York Times wrote that “the opening was sure to upset United States diplomats, who had encouraged Russia to delay it as a way to add to economic sanctions imposed on Iran because of its refusal to cease enrichment of uranium at its other nuclear facilities.”
Also on Sunday Iran unveiled the Karrar (striker), its first long-range, unmanned bomber. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on state TV that “The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship.”
He claimed an Israeli attack on Iran’s nukes was unlikely, but if it occurred, “The scope of Iran’s reaction will include the entire earth. We also tell you – the West – that all options are on the table.”
Coming one day after the Bushehr launch, Admadinejad’s words meant “We will continue what we’re doing here, and don’t anyone seriously think of stopping us.”
If anything good came out of these developments, it would be increased understanding in the West of how stark, beyond the sanctions chimera, its choices on Iran really are.
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