Contextual Content

Iran/Russia – a deadly embrace Pt.1

The Bush administration has tried everything to drive a wedge between Iran and Russia – to no avail. The Obama administration now has to deal with some pretty established facts on the ground. In the first part of this report, Pepe Escobar analyzes the implications of the complex relationship between close allies Iran and Russia, articulated on three fronts: nuclear, energy security and weapons.

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Story Transcript

PEPE ESCOBAR, SENIOR ANALYST, TRNN: You all know obsessed-by-Eurasia Zbig Brzezinski, a man who has President Obama’s undivided attention. Well, he’s been preaching since the 1990s that it’s essential to break up the Tehran-Moscow-Beijing axis and torpedo the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the SCO. No wonder Dr. Zbig is scared. Russia and China, along with Iran, want the end of the dollar as a global reserve currency. They want a multipolar basket of currencies. Not cool with the Obama administration, to say the least. Then add the energy picture: Iran is number two in the world in proven oil reserves—11.2 percent—and in gas reserves—15.7 percent—according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2008. Say Iran decides to have a more unclenched-fist relationship with Washington. US big oil would have a ball with Iran’s Caspian energy wealth. So whatever the rhetoric, no US administration would ever want to deal with a hypernationalist Iranian regime, such as the current military dictatorship of the mullah-tariat. The real Washington scare, from Bush to Obama, is the [prospect] of a Russia-Iran-Venezuela axis. Let’s see why. Together, Iran and Russia hold 17.6 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. The Persian Gulf petro-monarchies’ de facto control by Washington, they hold 45 percent. The Moscow-Tehran-Caracas axis controls 25 percent. If we add Kazakhstan’s 3 percent and Africa’s 9.5 percent, this new axis is in fact a counter-power to American hegemony over the Arab Middle East. The same thing applies to gas. If we add the axis to the Central Asian ‘Stans, we reach 30 percent of world’s gas production. As a comparison, the whole Middle East, including Iran, currently produces only 12.1 percent of the world’s needs in gas. Iran will produce nuclear energy for civilian use. That’s inevitable. And this will turbo-charge the new, emerging multipolar world. Iran and Russia are de facto showing to boast China and India [sic], and it’s not very wise to rely on US controlling the bulk of oil in the Arab Middle East. All of them are very much aware that Iraq remains occupied and that Washington’s obsession remains the privatization of Iraq’s enormous oil wealth. This is all linked to a multipolar military system. Since last year, Iranian officials have said that sooner or later Iran and Russia will start trading in rubles. Gazprom is willing to be paid for oil and gas in rubles and not dollars. And OPEC’s secretariat, they have been saying for over a year now that OPEC will be trading in euros before 2020. So imagine the axis Moscow-Tehran-Caracas, but also Qatar and Norway, for instance, and sooner or later the Gulf emirates breaking up with the petrodollar. It will take years, of course, but it will eventually happen. And that means the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, the end of the world paying for America’s massive budget deficits, and the end of the Anglo-American financial stranglehold over the world that’s been lasting since the 19th century.

The energy equation between Iran and Russia is much more complex. It’s a matter of Pipeline-istan at its peak, since the US, still, during the ’90s, Zbig Brzezinski was a big player and went to ["BAH-ko"] in 1999, decided to hit the Caspian in full force by supporting the BTC oil pipeline and the BTS gas pipeline. Tehran, isolated from the West, lacks foreign investment to upgrade its 1970s-built energy installations. Enter Russia’s Gazprom, for which Iran is literally a gold mine. The Bush administration, they started with weakening Russia and isolating Iran in Central Asia. Wrong. They only accelerated the strategic energy cooperation between Russia and Iran. Fourteen years ago, Moscow committed to finish the construction of a nuclear reactor at Bushehr. This was a project started by that self-proclaimed [inaudible] of the Gulf for the US, the Shah of Iran, remember, in 1974. The Russians finally entered the picture. And by December 2001, Moscow also started to sell missiles to Tehran—a surefire way of making extra money, offering protection for strategic assets such as Bushehr. But most of all there are geopolitical reasons. Former President Vladimir Putin used Bushehr as a key diplomatic peon in his double-chessboard match with the West and the Iranians. It was Putin who launched the idea of enriching uranium for Iran in Russia—talk about a strategic asset in terms of managing a global nuclear crisis. Ahmadinejad, and most of all the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, they gave Putin a flat refusal. The Russian response was even more foot-dragging, and even mild support for more US-sponsored sanctions against Tehran. Tehran then got the message that Putin was not an unconditional ally. So in August 2006, the Russians land a new deal for the construction and supervision of two new nuclear plants. This all means that the Iranian nuclear dossier simply cannot be solved without Russia.

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