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December 17, 2006
Maybe They'll Supply Them With Polonium, Too

Russia has announced that it will move forward with plans to supply the Iranians with nuclear fuel for their reactors, despite Iran's refusal to adhere to UN Security Council resolutions demanding an end to uranium enrichment. Following suit, Iran has told visiting diplomats that it plans on transferring its nuclear technology to other nations as soon as it perfects its own processes:

RUSSIA is to begin supplying Iran with nuclear fuel early next year despite mounting concern in the West that this could accelerate Tehran’s plans to build a nuclear bomb.

Sergei Shmatko, head of Atomstroyexport, Russia’s state nuclear fuel exporter, said last week that preparations to send fuel to Iran would start next month and the first consignment was expected to reach the Islamic republic in early spring.

The announcement, at a time when Russia is asserting itself as an energy power, has caused anxiety in western countries which are trying to convince the Kremlin to end its nuclear co-operation with Tehran.

The concerns were strengthened yesterday when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reported to have told a Kuwaiti envoy that Iran was ready to transfer its nuclear technology to neighbouring countries.

The nuclear fuel will be sent to Bushehr, Iran’s first nuclear power station, which has been built by Russia over the past decade as part of a £450m contract. Iran says the plant will be used to produce energy and that its nuclear programme is solely for civilian purposes.

Russia under Vladimir Putin has become increasingly arrogant and wants to keep playing all of the worst aspects of the Great Game. Not even a healthy dose of self-interest has kept Putin from trying to woo Iran into his orbit of influence. After all, the Islamist uprising in the Caucasus certainly will benefit from Iranian technology transfers of nuclear expertise, and it isn't much of a stretch to see that Putin has likely handed the means of Russia's extortion to its most likely extortionists.

One would think that the threat of proliferation on the southern belly of Russia would give Putin and his regime some pause, but the Russian autocrat has his eyes on the wrong front. He sees his great conflict with Europe and the Western powers, which have come all the way to the doorstep of Russia, absorbing all of the buffer states that once shielded Russia from the West. That evolution of Westernization -- begun with the fall of the Berlin Wall -- has rattled Putin far more than it should, and it has kept his focus off of the real existential threat of a nuclear-armed radical Islam.

And we have no doubt that Ahmadinejad will share with his friends once he has a fully-developed nuclear process. His tip to the Kuwaitis only confirms his intentions to spread nuclear weapons throughout Southwest Asia in an attempt to eject the West from the area. He wants an end to the Israeli nuclear deterrent, and he's going to get it unless he's stopped. That would be true whether Putin hands him the fuel for his Messianic ambitions or not, but the day will come much more quickly now than before.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 17, 2006 10:02 AM

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