The Russians know very well that the Islamic Republic is making a nuclear bomb. They have sold the mullahs what is needed to acquire such a weapon. Amongst the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Russia is the only country that has not agreed to stop providing nuclear cooperation to Iran.
In an interview with the BBC's Sir David Frost, Vladimir Putin although expressing concerns about the intentions of the Tehran government, made it clear that he will not back down from a commitment to continue helping the Iranian nuclear program. He said: "We are against the option of using the subject of Iran's potential nuclear program as a way of squeezing Russian companies out of the Iranian market". For Mr. Putin the morality of the market place overrides any human consideration. If arming a rouge state with WMD is going to boost the Russian economy, so be it. Let us not forget that twenty percent of Iraq's oil revenue before the fall of Saddam Hussein went to the contracts signed with the Russian companies.
One cannot help thinking that the more things change in Russia, the more they stay the same. After over a decade since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow still clings to an unscrupulous and cynical foreign policy. In the days of running a communist empire it suppressed political freedom throughout its domain by pretending to act in the name of the solidarity of the masses. Today its heartless foreign policy endangers international security and subverts the cause of democracy under the pretext of economic necessity.
Helping the Islamic Republic to make a bomb is a good indication that Russia has joined the free market economy without adhering to those democratic values without which capitalism is only another distasteful cuisine on the materialistic menu. The mafia too thrives on capitalism without being bound by any principles that could come in the way of its money-making activities. The world however expects more from the government of the country that gave birth to Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov. Just as Russian dissidents galvanized world opinion against a repressive dictatorship, now Iranian students and intellectuals suffering humiliation, torture and death in the dungeons of the clerical regime expect the same human sympathy from the international community and their Russian neighbors. To beef up the military machine of the mullahs is to deride at their rightful aspirations. Russian economic prosperity cannot be built on the ashes of the Iranian people’s hope for liberty and democracy.
The Russian government should keep in mind that it cannot expect any moral support from the world public opinion about its unmitigating problems with ruthless Chechen rebels while it is providing WMD to a major sponsor of global terrorism. It should end its nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic immediately or it will be solely responsible for the hellish consequences of turning the whole world into potential hostages of a fanatical regime. Can the civilized world afford to expose its cherished peace and freedom to the whims of such a Russian roulette?
Reza Bayegan is a commentator on Iranian politics who was born in Iran and currently works for the British Council in Paris. He contributes weekly columns to the Iran va Jahan Website and is a regular guest on exile Iranian radio shows.