Nuclear Iran: Beware of the Russian Bear in the Middle East
by Jim Kouri, CPP
As the Iranians are moving closer to developing a nuclear weapons program, the Russian government is telling the world not to worry. An Russian official is being quoted as saying the centrifuges available to Iran are not sufficient to launch industrial uranium enrichment. A Russian nuclear expert concurred.
"Uranium enrichment in Iran is not arousing concerns in Russia.There is nothing unexpected in this. The availability of 164 centrifuges in Iran is a fact that has been known for a long time," Russian Atomic Energy Agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko told China's communist party-controlled news agency.
"These centrifuges allow Iran to conduct laboratory uranium enrichment to a low level in insignificant amounts. The acquisition of highly enriched uranium is unfeasible today using this method," Kiriyenko said.
However, a senior Iranian official and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani told the Kuwait News Agency that Iran had operated the first unit of 164 centrifuges and successfully enriched uranium.
And then there's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bragging on Tuesday that Iran had "joined the world club of nuclear technology."
However, in order for the Iranian scientists to produce their own fuel at least for the initial loading of a nuclear reactor, "one needs to have not some hundred-and-a-half centrifuges, but thousands of times more," Viktor Mikhailov, ex-minister of the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy who leads the ministry's Institute for Strategic Stability.
But why should the United States and the United Nations believe the Russian government? Afterall, US intelligence agencies have for years known about Russian duplicity in Iraq. In fact, recent declassified reports indicated that Russian intelligence gave Iraq's military leaders US war plans for the 2003 invasion. Today, Iran is a cash cow for the Russians and it's in their best interest to prop up the current regime.
According to officials at the Arms Control Association, "Russia has become Iran's main source of advanced conventional arms, an alleged supplier of know-how and technology for its ballistic missile and chemical and biological warfare programs, and its sole source of civilian nuclear technology."
The ACA maintains that Iran also wants to be able to deter potential threats from the United States, Israel, and, more recently, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan. Tehran's efforts to modernize its armed forces and acquire weapons of mass destruction are driven by a desire to bridge the gap between its military weakness and its image of itself as a regional power and the standard bearer of revolutionary Islam. To these ends, Tehran has turned to Russia -- the only country that can provide it with arms in the quantity and the quality that it desires.
And the Russians are more than happy to accomodate the Iranians with high-priced weapons systems that would be aimed at the West, including the United States.
Tehran cherishs this relationship with Moscow. One need only look at how the Iranians have remained silent over Moscow's bloody suppression of a Muslim separatist movement in Chechnya. These are Iran's fellow Jihadists, yet the Iranians defer to the Russian government in order to keep the relationship in tact. Iran wants access to sophisticated weaponry and the Russians want to buttress their unstable economy with Iranian cash.
Russia's arms and technology transfers to Iran have created diplomatic and security headaches for Washington, as Tehran develops some fairly sophisticated military niche-capabilities and builds ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that threaten US interests and allies in the region. Even more troubling for Washington, it has been able to do very little about it and its options seem limited according to ACA.
In addition, intelligence experts believe -- as with the Saddam regime in Iraq -- Russian intelligence officers are assisting the Iranians. Jane's Intelligence Review reports the while the KGB was dismantled, the Russians are continuously growing a huge intelligence network that is deeply intrenched in the Middle East.
It's believed that Russia is hosting Iranian intelligence officers at their training facilities and academies in order to upgrade their training in intelligence gathering and analysis, covert actions, and strategic planning.
So when Russia tells the world that Iran is basically no threat at this point in time, should we really believe them?
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.