The Moscow-Tehran-Damascus Axis
Nuclear, Terror and Anti-Terror Interests
What Did Russia Know about Iran’s Nuclear
from 1992 to 2003?
Analysis of the Russian publications and declarations
issued over the last few years, shows unequivocally that, the Russians have had
sufficient information about the dangerous development of various aspects of the
Iranian Nuclear Program.
In May 2003, the Russian-language journal Nuclear
Control (Iadernyi Kontrol’), issued by the Moscow PIR Center for
Policy Studies in Russia,1 published an article
by Vasilii Lata and Anton Khlopkov entitled “Iran: Nuclear Missile Riddle for
Russia”. The authors wrote in the preface, “If just a year ago, Iran’s nuclear
fuel cycle (NFC) appeared to be more a virtual than actual phenomenon because
almost all the stages were missing, then the information of recent months gives
it a completely logical and distinct form.”2
Indeed, only slightly more than a year before that, in December 2001, Anton
Khlopkov himself had published his Master’s thesis, which had made the argument
for the “virtual character” of the Iranian program.3
Both these works are very reasonable scientific studies,
and thus they elucidate basic information that has been at the disposal of
Russian agencies – such as the Ministry of Atomic Energy, the PIR Center, and
others – for many years already. Unlike some works of the Soviet period, the
studies we are examining do not juggle the facts or the figures; they are
executed completely professionally. In 2001, they drew certain conclusions from
the well-founded data they used, whereas in 2003, they drew quite different
conclusions, indeed, those that logically derive from the data.
Presented below is a short description of each of nuclear
fuel cycle which is operating or being constructed in Iran, along with an
account of what was known in Russia about each of the facilities and when it was
Mines for extracting uranium ore (in Ardekan,
Yezd province). These are almost ready for exploitation, although they will
not operate at full strength until 2005. According to recent assessments, the
stocks of uranium are very low. Fuel produced from this ore will be 3-5 times
more expensive than such fuel on the world market. In the mid-1990s, Russia
took part in designing mineshafts.
Later as well, Russia was well informed about what was happening, for example,
it knew that estimates of the amount of the reserves had been reduced.4
A plant for separating waste rock (gob) (in
Ardekan). It should begin operation in 2005 and will be able to produce up to
57 tons of uranium raw materials, which is clearly insufficient for the
production of nuclear fuel. At the same time, however, this amount of raw
material is adequate for the production of several hundreds of kilos of
military grade uranium for nuclear warheads.
In the mid-1990s, Russia prepared a technical draft for a plant with an
annual capacity of 100-200 tons. This project was never carried out. Later
China began to assist Iran.5
plant for the production of radioactive uranium (“yellow cake” – U3O8)
in Ardekan. According to the Iranians, it was ready for operation in 2003.
In 1995 one Russian institute participated in the reconstruction and expansion
into an industrial site of a pilot installation.6
plant for the conversion of the gas form of uranium compound (UF6).
This plant in Isfahan is ready to begin operation. Iran announced plans
for construction of the plant in 1996. Later Russia learned from Peking and
Washington about the progress being made on the plant and about the fact that
the Iranians had received technical documentation from China.7
A plant for the centrifugal enrichment of uranium
(at Natanz, 150 kilometers from Isfahan). In 2003, it already had 5,000
centrifuges working. It was capable of producing enough military quality
uranium in a year to create two nuclear bombs. The floor space of the building
at Natanz was large enough to allow the placement of 50,000 centrifuges,
sufficient to produce enough uranium for 20 bombs. The plant was placed
partially underground, and its walls, which were two to three meters wide,
were exceptionally strong.8
The Natanz plant – even if it had enough raw materials – did not
have the capacity to produce the quantity of enriched uranium needed for fuel
by even one reactor of the Bushehr station. The other kind of uranium that
Teheran intends to produce could be military grade.9
In January 1995, during the visit of Russian Atomic Energy
Minister Viktor Mikhailov to Teheran, a protocol of understanding regarding
talks about the construction of a centrifuge plant was signed, along with a
contract for the construction of a uranium mine. Shortly afterwards, Yeltzin
had to call off the agreement due to American demands.
In early 2004, Mikhailov told in his interview that in that (1995) visit he
had been shown some experiments and calculations that were doubtlessly about
the processing of military grade uranium. Milkhailov’s word is considered very
reliable, as he has been a leading figure in the development of Soviet/Russian
nuclear weapons already for many years.10 It
means that the Russian leaders knew very well that Teheran was set upon
procuring everything related to the centrifuge enrichment process. When their
attempt to get “hardware” fell through they kept up a nonstop effort to get
any piece of information about the technology of centrifuge development and
A plant for the production of fuel, so-called “fuel
tablets”, which are stored in strong zirconium rods. This plant was
apparently not yet ready for operation in 2003. A pilot laboratory
installation only operating at Isfahan University was capable of producing
“peaceful uranium especially for energy”. Russia did not know very much about
this because little was happening.
A plant for manufacturing zirconium rods for storing
fuel. From the mid-1990s, China designed and constructed a plant for the
production of such rods in Isfahan. Zirconium rods filled with “uranium
tablets” are assembled, and lowered in this form into a reactor, where they
generate heat for a period of four to five years.
Russia knew about the contract with China, which is being realized by a very
Construction of a plant for the production of heavy
water at Arak (about 200 kilometers from Isfahan). It is not clear
what stage the preparations for the construction of this plant have reached.
Heavy water is necessary because heavy water reactors are best suited to
produce weapons-grade plutonium.12 In 2003,
the Iranians confirmed that at least two heavy water reactors at increased
capacity – (probably 3,000 Kw.) were under construction.
In 1996, Russia conducted talks about the sale of a heavy
water reactor. In 1996-1998, under the disguise of “theoretical consultations,”
the NIKIET Institute of Moscow (Russian abbreviation for Scientific Research and
Planning Institute of Energy Technology) worked with Teheran on technology for
producing heavy water. NIKIET had cooperated with Teheran in this sphere until
the US applied sanctions against it. In 1999 several employees of the Institute
began to carry out the next commission for the Iranians clandestinely, but they
were discovered by the Russian intelligence services.13
At various stages in the development of five of the six
facilities involved in the production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium,
Russia was either involved or was well informed about Teheran’s intentions and
capabilities.14 Russian experts could not avoid
realizing that the Iranians were advancing both possibilities to produce a
nuclear weapon – from plutonium and from uranium.
Russians, as well as Westerners, are now speaking of the
existence of another six or seven facilities in Iran suspected of military
oriented nuclear R&D, which are mainly research labs. In my estimation, Moscow
definitely knew about them, but had not very much information on the research
processes going on inside. However, the data about all these facilities was far
from the only type of information at the disposal of top-level figures in
Moscow. They possessed, and discussed, economic and other data connected with
Iran’s nuclear program that clearly contradicted Teheran’s “peaceful atom”
Geography, Economy and Intelligent Versus the
According to A. Khlopkov, at the very beginning of the
cooperation with Iran, Moscow studied his proposal, taking into account various
scenarios, including the possibility that Iran might create nuclear weapons. The
final decision in favor of cooperation with Teheran was made in spite of the
Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR in Russian) report that noted “there is a
program in the country for applied research in the nuclear field for military
Subsequently, a high-level official at the Atomic Energy
Ministry declared that, “Iran is Russia’s closest neighbor, and it is very
important for us to know what is happening with their [the Iranians’] nuclear
program. There is only one means of doing so – carrying out joint projects with
them.”16 For example, Moscow experts knew the
exact geological data of uranium ore locations and that the low content of
uranium in the ore would make the cost of the fuel – about 50 tons per year –
unacceptably high if it were to be used only for fuel for an electric power
station. These 50 tons of available uranium are fully adequate for the
production of a nuclear arsenal comparable to that of France, Great Britain, or
productivity of the Pakistani mineshaft in Deragazikhan – from which uranium was
extracted for the creation of the nuclear warheads that were exploded in May
1998 – stands at 30 tons of natural uranium per year. Nevertheless, Khlopkov’s
conclusion in 2001 was that uranium ore stock did not make Iran a potential
nuclear state since there were another 20-30 states possessing such stocks.
In the same
context, in 2003, Khlopkov and Lata logically noted that Iran possessed – apart
from the stocks of uranium ore – a number of plants whose aim was to process
uranium ore (whereas the other 20-25 states mentioned above did not have such
plants), and develop it in directions that had nothing to do with fuel for
Concerning the geography of Iranian nuclear facilities,
Russian experts focused attention on the main facilities for enrichment of
uranium in Ardekan, Natanz, and Arak that were constructed in a 200 km. radius
around the city of Isfahan. In this area, a few dozens of kilometers east of
Isfagan, launch facilities for the missiles, Shihab 2 and Shihab 3 were
situated. This entire strategic region was “covered” by anti-aircraft and
anti-missile systems (mainly of Russian origins) and for several years Teheran
has been doing its best to purchase the Russian anti-aircraft and anti-missile
system S-300 with an effective range as high as 200 km.18
The combination of three factors: nuclear facilities,
missile launch ranges and the anti-aircraft and anti-missile umbrella cannot
mean anything but a carefully thought over echelon of the Teheran strategic
program. The other zone being highly protected by the S-300s is planned around
the Bushehr nuclear power station on the Persian Gulf coast. For some reason,
until May 2003, Moscow preferred not to connect the nuclear program with the
ballistic intentions of Teheran, and denied all US and Israeli suspicions on
In 2001, an economics expert, Anatolii Alimov, using
official Iranian statistics, published an article entitled “Iran’s
Military-Industrial Potential: Some Assessments”.19
Alimov cited the following figures: from 1989 until 1995 – that is, in five
years – Iran allotted $550 million to nuclear programs. In that period, the
construction of the Bushehr station had not yet begun, and the expenditures at
the time for carrying out minimal laboratory research on nuclear power and for
the development of medical radiology, amounted to a reasonable sum of about $13
million a year. Alimov did not find where the rest of the $97 million a year was
Instead of an answer, he cited the example of India, which
spent approximately $120 million a year on its nuclear program in the 1980s and
1990s, over a period of 15-17 years. Alimov also drew an analogy between
financing the space and missile programs of Iran and those of its neighbors,
India and Pakistan. Here, too, Iran enjoyed equal prospects for success.
Among the Iranian statistics cited by Alimov, the
following fact is of special interest: At the beginning of the 1990s, $80
million were spent each year on all the scientific and technological research in
the country, that is, 20% less than on one nuclear program. It should be noted
that science, and especially education in the sphere of the exact sciences, has
made good progress in Iran since the beginning of the 1990s. In other words, the
$80 million were a rather effective capital investment. Could it be that the
$110 million invested in nuclear research did not bear any fruit besides the
equipping of university laboratories and clinics?
There is no basis for anyone to assume that the Iranian
nuclear program was just a showy undertaking, with most of its budget going for
conferences, exhibitions, and gala dinners.21
Concerning the intelligence factor, the Russians do not
deny that at the beginning of the 1990s, dozens, if not hundreds, of Russian and
Ukrainian specialists left their home countries to work in Iran on “physics”
research. A realistic assumption is that in the chaos of 1992-1995, these
specialists eluded Russia’s intelligence services, and even more those of
Ukraine. It was quite a simple matter to move to another state of the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and receive a visa there for any
Western country. However, it is unrealistic and illogical to assume that after
1995-1996 and up until the present time, the Russian intelligence service has
been unable to plant its agents among these people, even though Iran monitors
foreigners very closely.22 The same should be
true for about 1,000 students, technicians, and scientists that Teheran sent to
Russia to study nuclear technology, nuclear physics and missile technology. The
capability of Russian Intelligence was proven long before, but its dependability
In 1993, the Foreign Intelligence Service reported that
Iran was going to develop a nuclear military capacity. In 1995, Evgenii Primakov,
then head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, issued a report emphasizing that
Russian intelligence “had not uncovered convincing evidence of the existence (in
Iran) of a coordinated...military nuclear program” and that “the level of Iran’s
achievement in the nuclear field is not superior to that of 20-25 other
countries.” The contrast with the agency’s 1993 report, which expressed
significant suspicion about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, was striking.23
Recently, based on intelligence sources, Russian experts hinted that some
uranium of Russian origins was supplied to Iran by neighboring countries. This
information can be confirmed by personal information from a businessman who
inquired about renting a cargo aircraft in the Ukraine and by chance ran into a
close friend’s company based in Dnepropetrovsk. The friend recommended not to
take any of his Tupolev aircraft as they still had traces of radioactivity from
the time that the cargo planes were used to transport uranium (or uranium ore)
to Iran between the end of 2002 and early 2003.24
Vladimir Orlov has stated several times that the source of uranium leaks from
Russia to Iran is other SIC countries, and not Russia itself.25
The PIR Center confirmed the “disappearance” of
radioactive waste materials from Chechnya without a trace.
A quantity of between 665 and 2,000 grams of weapons-grade
uranium was stolen from the Sukhumi (Georgia) nuclear research center in the mid
1990s, when a gruesome ethnic conflict took place there and Chechen groups of
gunmen came to support one of the sides. The trail of several experts who
left the same center at that period led to Teheran. These experts
specialized in designing gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the sphere in
which Iranians badly needed to advance.26 PIR
researcher Efstafiev raised the issue of “nuclear suitcases” that “had never
been lost in Russia” but it seems that Moscow will not be surprised if they find
their way into terrorists’ hands.27
Almost every Russian politician and ideologue repeatedly
puts forward two aspects of Russia’s line of good neighboring relations with
Iran: First, the serious export of conventional Russian weapons and the
technologies connected with them and second, the stable development of the oil
potential in the Caspian region. A third factor is only mentioned occasionally
but is becoming increasingly important – Teheran’s restraint in all aspects of
its pro-Islamic activity in Central Asia and the Caucasus. It is common
knowledge that Iran supports many Arab terrorist organizations. As Russian
experts explain, “the Iranian rulers accept two non-conventional mechanisms for
increasing their military potential by minimal allocation. One of them is
supporting terrorist activity.”28 In fact,
before 2003, few Russian experts – none of them political
analysts or political scientists – had the courage to draw direct conclusions
from the facts and suspicions (commonly known to most of them) concerning Iran’s
In 1995, Professor Alexei Iablokov, at that time chairman
of the Interdepartmental Commission on the Environment of the Russian Security
Council, repeatedly criticized the Atomic Energy Ministry (Minatom), which only
looked after its own profits in Iran, and the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) for being ineffective in principle, in monitoring the peaceful use of the
atom. Nor could Russia keep Iran within the legal limits. Russia, indeed, was
even giving Iran a powerful push forward in the field of nuclear technology
Handy Leverage – The Report of Ecological
For about two years, the Kremlin was aware of the crucial
point of no return in all the Iranian nuclear programs – the delivery of nuclear
fuel to Bushehr.
As is well known, the spent nuclear fuel (SNF), after
unloading from the reactor, contains an elevated quantity of Plutonium-239 and
Plutonium-240 and this material can be used for further enrichment and the
accumulation of weapons-grade plutonium.
Radiochemical technologies for extracting Plutonium from SNF are not
simple ones, but after North Korea proved its possibility there is no reason to
doubt the Iranian capability.
Every country using nuclear fuel in its electric power
stations is anxious to find ways to get rid of it after use because reprocessing
SNF entails the production of a number of secondary waste products that also
have to be buried somewhere. Yet while all the other countries that have nuclear
power energy facilities were trying to get rid of SNF, Iran behaved in the
exactly opposite way. As early as 1995, Teheran insisted on a paragraph in the
Bushehr agreement that gave them the right of SNF ownership.
In the summer of 2002, the Minister of Atomic Energy,
Alexander Rumiantzev, promised to supply fresh nuclear fuel to Bushehr within
several months, (he said that fuel was waiting in the storage facilities of the
Tomsk industrial complex), while Moscow ecologists explained to the press that
Iran had no obligation to return SNF back to Russia.30
Rumiantsev himself set out for Teheran to examine the situation on the spot. He
liked what he saw and heard there, and told correspondents that once they got
the report of the ecological experts on the safety of the SNF in all the stages
of treatment, and a slight correction of the other SNF paragraph was made, the
final agreement could be signed, even in a few weeks.31
This is the first time Moscow mentioned environmental
demands as a condition for the completion of the Bushehr power station project.
The environmental aspect of the issue is certainly very
important because the level of radiation of SNF is high, as are, consequently,
the risks of polluting the environment and irradiating people during the SNF
storage process (which lasts for three years in special cooling basins and
another year in dry storage) and after that during its transportation. But the
ecological factor is important above all as a means of clarifying the nuclear
processes that are really taking place and would help reduce the chance of
illegal extraction of Plutonium-239 to zero.
The concept of a “report of ecological experts” is an
elastic one. On the basis of new demands of the IAEA, the standards can be made
stricter all the time, thus enabling the Russians to propose additional
requirements. That is what they actually did. Referring to the Chernobyl
disaster trauma, Moscow can toughen her demands at any moment.
Until now, for Russian politicians, the “ecological card”
was a most convenient one to play with Teheran.
After 14 months of this game, in the middle of March 2004,
the head of Nuclear Safety Inspection (Atomnadzor) Andrei Malyshev,
explained to his Iranian colleagues – and immediately to Reuters – that Iran
must purchase for Bushehr a monitoring installation that is produced by European
firms. Unfortunately, none of these firms are able to sell the installation to
Iran due to the existing embargo.32
It should be noted well, that Teheran’s endeavor to obtain
nuclear fuel remained prominent and it did not even hide this. A statement was
released by the Iranian military, (General Muhammad Bakher Zolkhadr), at the end
of 2002. He was cited in an Iranian newspaper, praising the forthcoming supply
of fuel from Russia. “As soon as the atomic power station in Bushehr becomes
operative, the presence in the country of a large quantity of nuclear material
will become the best guarantee of our security from any aggressor.”33
This statement provokes a kind of dual astonishment – why
is a general talking about the issue of a civil power station, and how is the
fuel for an energy reactor transferred into a “guarantee of Iranian security
from any aggressor”. It should be a clear indication of the lesson learned by
Teheran from the Osirak reactor bombing by the Israelis in 1981. It was done
only a short time before it was to be loaded with nuclear fuel, because
afterwards massive radiation pollution would probably have affected hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis. Large quantities of nuclear materials, even with low
radiation levels, located in a range of nuclear facilities under various
pretexts, would be a real obstacle for the US or Israel if they want to destroy
them by force.
Rulers with such a mentality are probably easily able to
transform the nuclear fuel from “the strongest guarantee of their security” into
the ultimate political leverage in the hands of terrorist groups manipulated by
Nuclear Superpower versus the Islamic
Russian criticism of Iran’s nuclear program by the experts
and by the media intensified from the spring of 2003, in accordance with some
new accents in statements by Putin’s apparatus and the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, and sometimes even laid the groundwork for them.
The Reviews of Moscow’s policy towards Teheran had been
put forward by leading experts of the PIR Center, the Carnegie Moscow Center and
In the paper published in February 2003, by three
researchers from the Institute of International Applied Studies, they quoted
several Iranian leaders’ statements that supported an Islamic/Iranian nuclear
bomb and, after an analysis of their missile program, concluded that development
of Shihab 3 and Shihab 4 models makes sense only if the MDW warheads are at
their top ends.34 They conclude also that in
case of additional strengthening of the orthodox rulers, Iran will decisively
become a supporter of Islamic terrorism, a supporter backed by a nuclear
potential. It was the first time Russian analysts recognized Teheran’s strategic
support of terrorism as an extreme risk for Russia and her unity. They were very
well aware of Teheran’s official strategic line: support of terrorism as a cheap
and effective instrument of providing political achievements for an Islamic
state. However, before 2003, they perceived it as a limited method only for the
Hizbullah or other anti-Israeli groups.35
A very sincere and convincing opinion of Teheran’s
two-faced behavior had recently been provided on the Internet site of a Russian
anti-nuclear ecological movement (<www.NuclearNo.ru>), in a posting by an expert
known only as “Maiak” (in Russian, lighthouse). His information appears
solid because his facts were cross-referenced in publications and conversations
I have had with Russian experts during various meetings since 1997.36
Iranians always prefer to pay experts in cash but always
made sure there were witnesses to the deal, in order to threaten or blackmail
them in the future. Maiak brings names and details about Teheran’s efforts to
obtain laser and other sophisticated technology for uranium enrichment from the
Efremov Institute in Saint Petersburg. In 2003, when a contract with the Efremov
Institute was canceled under US pressure, Teheran left all the prepaid sums on
the Institute account, for the personal use of some Institute managers. Iranians
were quick to learn to work around export limitation by buying basic equipment
from Russian institutes and then applying it on the site with cheaper assistance
from Chinese scientists.
From many years of personal contacts with top Iranian
nuclear figures, (members of the Teheran Nuclear Energy Commission), Maiak
received the strong impression that these cunning Iranians use shifty techniques
to procure forbidden nuclear technology from the Russians, and use it to reach
their political aims – spreading Islam over the globe. One should not be fooled
by Teheran’s condemning of the Chechens.37
Concerning the Caucasus, Andrey Piontkovskii, a Moscow
expert known for his independent views, stated recently that an Islamist
fundamentalist movement irreversibly replaced the former Chechnya separatist
conflict throughout the North Caucasus for its own agenda. Muslims who recently
organized “jamaat” (a Muslim self-organized structure which takes the
function of local authorities) in various regions of the Caucasus have nothing
to do with the idea of an independent Ichkerya. They think of themselves as
shahids of the global Islamic Khalifat, as fighters for the
elimination of the shameless immoral West, and for them Russia just represents
its weakest link.38 Teheran supports jamaat organizers and
Muslim educators directly or indirectly and as the other Moscow Islam expert
Alexey Malashenko recently wrote, “a small stream of Teheran’s money also goes
to Chechen militants.”39
After getting insurance in the form of a nuclear potential
it will not pose a moral problem for Teheran to provide whichever side would
prove more appealing with Hizbullah’s experience in terrorism. This is
especially relevant since Russia has confirmed that the Chechens have already
come a long way in preparing for mega terror.40
This may seem like a small technical detail, but it should not be overlooked; it
appears that Teheran is the only source able to provide terrorists with
radioactive materials of Russian origin. If a mega terror action that uses such
materials should occur anywhere in Russia, Iranians will not be implicated,
since it will be not easy to evidence their role.
The attitude of the Moscow elite toward Iran changed
dramatically after the Beslan tragedy, which demonstrated the impotence of this
subject to all echelons of the government. After Beslan, sharp condemnations
directed at Islamic terror were sounded by the hundreds, but hardly a single
critical statement about the Islamic Republic, internationally recognized as a
sponsor of terror, was voiced by Russian officials. But not only by officials.
Immediately after September 11, 2001, as a foreword to the journal, Nuclear
Control, the editor, (PIR Center Director V. Orlov), quoted the Iranian
President Khatami saying that Islam had issued a challenge “to the entire
ideological and value system of Western civilization... Their slogans talk about
defending human freedom, the rights of man, democracy, and national state. Our
war with the West in this sphere is the question of life and death.
Any compromise will only result in oppression, disgrace
and the loss of our individuality and glory.”41
After Beslan, academic institutions and
analysts went along with the official version and failed to find a single word
revealing Teheran’s policy, which in fact has not changed at all since 2001.
It can hardly be a coincidence that within a month from
Beslan, in October 2004, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official in charge of
the policy toward Iran, argued that Iran is the only state in the greater Middle
East that is increasing its economic, scientific, technological, and military
potential. With a highly educated population (Iran’s literacy rate is 81%),
continued the senior official, 11% of the world’s oil resources as well as 18%
of the world’s gas resources, ...Iran is “doomed” to become the region’s leader
and a major player in the vast region stretching from the Middle East to the
Caucasus and Central Asia.42 In November 2004,
a paper prepared by V. Orlov, mobilized all kinds of arguments supporting the
strategic choice that the Kremlin had made in favor of boosting political and
military ties with Iran. The author also added as an irrefutable advantage of
the rising giant, the consolidation of Iranian society based on religious and
ideological values, the same values that had been condemned by V. Orlov himself
in his 2001 paper as dangerous and destructive for the entire Western
civilization.43 In other words, since Iran in
many respects, has attained the status of a superpower, and an Islamic one at
that, indoctrinated and aggressive, it is better to negotiate with it than to
V. Orlov’s following publications, and presentations
initiated by him, (e.g. in the Geneva Center for Security Policy [GCSP]), aim to
provide Iran with legitimacy as a rational and responsible player in the
international arena. Such claims, portraying a military action against Iran as
self-destructive and counter-productive in any situation, only serve to
strengthen the extremists among the Iranian political leadership.44
Mostafa T. Zahrani, Director General of the Institute for Political and
International Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, chose the PIR
Center platform to make an exceptional statement: “Iran has always acquired that
which it could buy (the weapons – Z.W.) through legal paths. However, in
the situation where the very existence of Iran was threatened, Iran [has] also
acquired things on the black market.”45 The
Kremlin and its Russian proponents (today it includes nearly all academics and
media) do their best to persuade half the world that the Ayatollahs,
given nuclear capacity (or technically very close to it), will become real peace
lovers, both in the military sense and in the sense of preventing terror.
The Moscow-Damascus Axis, 1991-2004
The recent events in the Moscow-Damascus relationship are
more logically analyzed in the wide context of Moscow-Teheran-Damascus and
Hizbullah than on the Moscow-Damascus axis alone.
As is well known, during the 1990s, Russian-Syrian
relations cooled down even more than Russia’s relations with the rest of the
Arab countries. The trade figure between the countries dropped down from about
$1 billion in 1991 to $100 million in 1993 and rose slightly (to $160 million)
in 2000.46 The Syrian arms debt dating back to
the 1960s (Damascus never confirmed its scale, but the Russian estimate is at
$11-14 billion) was the main obstacle for further cooperation in any sphere – in
arms supplying or energy development projects. However, Syria was not in such a
critical condition in supporting its military machine as most of the western
media had reported, having up to 90% of its arms come from Soviet origins. My
own work, from 2000, based mainly on FSU sources, demonstrated many alternatives
to the Russian supplies that Damascus found in the 1990s.47
After the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991, hundreds
of Syrian officers, educated in military schools and academies throughout the
USSR, promptly took part in buying the enormous
military arsenals of the Soviet Army.
This way the Syrian Army got a part of the essential
hardware from Russia and other newly independent countries, with unbelievably
low prices and with incredible personal benefits to Syrian officers and
diplomats (through a joint venture with Moscow, Kiev or Minsk partners). In
early 1992, Syria purchased 400 T-72 tanks and 300 artillery systems from Russia
for $270 million in cash. Two things which happened here were without precedent:
such a quantity of Soviet weapons had never cost less than $500 million, and
cash was always an unacceptable means for payment in arms trades. In
addition, the Syrians received all the arms from the Soviet army stores
The Syrians were also very active in the “gray” and black
markets of Soviet weaponry that flourished in eastern European countries in the
In the mid-1990s Damascus preferred more legal forms of
cooperation with the Ukrainian and Belarus government companies. In 1996-1998 in
Kharkov (Ukraine) a few hundred T-55 and T-72 tanks were upgraded for a very low
price. Parts of the installation and services for the tanks, aircraft and radar
systems, the Syrian bought from China, North Korea and Iran, while paid for in
barter deals with the surplus of Soviet weaponry they had purchased.50
In Belarus, the Syrians, along with a governmental company
for arms trade, invested in communications and gained a firm position in that
developing market. In addition to a nice profit, Damascus got access to
enterprises for military equipment, radars and communications. According to
American experts, to this very day, the Minsk-Damascus “pipeline” is working.51
In the 1990s, Russian politicians made several attempts to
rebuild their status in Syria. This was done mainly through Eugenie
Primakov’s initiative, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1996-1998, who was
convinced that the alliance of Damascus and Baghdad was good for Moscow
economically and politically. Economically, he meant mainly development of
oil-based business between Syria and Iraq, while Russian firms would supply
oil-related technologies to both of them.52
The Kremlin’s initiative regarding Damascus did not bring
fruit during Primakov’s short tenure as prime minister from 1998 to 1999.
However, even after he left this top position, his policy, that could be called
the “Primakov Pro-Arab Doctrine”, was copied by MID (Foreign Affairs Ministry).
V. Putin’s rise to power and Assad’s death created new opportunities for Russia
in the Middle East, with Syria’s aid. In May 2001, Primakov went to Assad junior
and brought him a letter from Putin.
Russia’s well-informed experts estimate that the Russian
leader mentioned arms supplying and nuclear research technologies as a priority
for cooperation between the two countries. A short time before Primakov’s visit
to Damascus the Syrian Minister of Defense Mustapha Tlas dropped by for a visit
to Moscow.53 Recently, Russian and Western
media have describe the Russian military industrial complex (MIC) as the
main conduit for the unexpected warming in the Damascus-Moscow axis.
In reality, Syria was the best client of the Soviet MIC in
history. Many Moscow generals and officials still have a kind of nostalgia for
the period of the 1970s and 1980s. However, their time is over. From 1992 until
1998 there were no serious business contacts. In that period, if Syria was ready
to pay cash for something (Russia did not agree to a penny’s credit or any delay
in payment) it was mainly for orders of spare parts or repairing of equipment
that had been off the production line for years. Russian managers refer to such
business as “modest benefit, enormous headache”. State company officials would
drag out replies to such orders and did not even try to find an explanation or
suggest an alternative.54
However, special personal relations, not the commercial or
political ones, insured continuation of particular chemical programs between
Damascus and Moscow that led to the scandal in 1995. In that summer, the Cyprus
customs detained a cargo sent from Russia to Syria with precursors for nervous
gas production. A short time before that, Major-General Anatolii Kuntsewitch was
appointed the head of the Committee for the CW and BW Convention (elimination of
CW and BW and technologies for their production). He could not deny connections
to that deal and resigned. Russian courts started an inquiry, but he was never
prosecuted. For the next few years, Kuntsewitch continued to manage his
Laboratory of Ecology and Toxicology affiliated with the Russian Academy of
Sciences and maintained contact with a similar laboratory in Damascus. Russian
experts are talking about CW warheads that were installed on Syrian SS missiles
and aimed at Israel as a matter beyond question.55
However, while recognizing Syria as a violator of the CW
convention, they always find an excuse for that, pointing to Israel’s potential
of WMD. According to the report of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service,
Syria developed “other capacities for deterrence, as an answer to Israel’s
nuclear threat”. The same report mentioned that “Syria had no
military nuclear program applicable...”, although Damascus’ real intentions in
the nuclear sphere are not much of a secret. In the aforementioned paper by A.
Khlopkov, the author let slip the phrase, “...since Damascus could not get the
small nuclear research reactor from Argentina, Syria has no capacity to build a
The new agreement between Russia and Syria has been
presented by the Kremlin as a sum of several factors, each one intended to
improve the Russian trade balance (arms trade), or its political role in the
Let us analyze the arms trade and economic factors first:
Writing off about $10 billion of the $13.5 billion total
of Syrian debts, Russia says that instead of these virtual sums, (that should be
seen as lost), Moscow will now receive the remaining $3.6 billion in cash.
But actually, according to the agreement, Damascus will
pay out $1.5 billion over the course of a decade (about $150 million annually)
and $2.118 billion will be transferred in Syrian liras for future Russian
investment in Syria through Russian and Syrian mediating companies. The Moscow
independent analyst, P. Fendelgaur, wrote that this scheme is very good
business, but only for the corrupt Russian and Syrian bureaucrats, since it
provides them with the best chances to get a fat percentage from further
transactions with the money.57
A Russian military industrial complex can make a good
profit (which it badly needs) from selling some new arms and military equipment
Even though her debt was annulled, Syria is still required
to pay in cash for each new Russian tank (or spare parts for old ones).
According to Syrian requests from the late 1990s, they would like to obtain
modern tanks (T-90s), aircraft (Sukhoy) and anti-missile systems (Tor, Buk) from
Russia, not too many pieces of each kind, since the actual sum that Syria can
pay is approximately $150 million annually over the next five years. The Russian
MIC definitely cannot ignore contracts on such a scale, but with the recent oil
and gas prices it is hard to believe that this has had a crucial impact on
Putin’s decision to supply arms to Damascus again.58
Benefits on such a scale cannot also justify the precedent of writing off about
Discussing the kind of arms Russia is going to sell to
Syria might be more important than the money that can be earned by Russia.
International and Russian media widely discussed the selling of the newest kind
of tactical missile called “Iskander”. When checking the hard data (professional
opinions) it is not difficult to ascertain that the disclosure of Iskander’s
exclusive technical features was aimed as publicity for the Russian weapon
industry, and caused a media “spin” to distract public attention from the
selling of AA rockets to Syria. Firstly, according to sources from the Russian
Defense Ministry, the firm that produces the Iskander was not able to begin mass
production. They hope to supply the first few missiles in 2005 to the army units
in Chechnya, which badly need it for the “targeted killing” of terrorists and
terror groups.59 Syrian alleged willingness to
participate in financing the last stages of production (~$300 million) also
cannot be taken seriously since even in the worst period for the Russian MIC
(mid and late 1990s), foreign investment in important weaponry production was
not allowed, although the issue had been discussed at length.60
The focus of public discussion, especially in Israel, on
supplying Syria with a version of the AA rocket (“Igla” type) was more
justified. The latest model of Igla-S is a brilliant weapon for terror since it
is shoulder-launched and has sophisticated infrared and optical systems for
targeting. Reliable counter measurers to protect military and civil aircraft
against it have yet to be invented. Supplying the Igla-S is prohibited in all
conflict regions according to the US-Russia agreement. Syria now has to be
content with a less sophisticated version called “Strelets” which cannot be
launched manually (as a shoulder rocket) but only from a vehicle, thus allowing
the Russians to skirt round the mentioned agreement. On the other hand, Strelets
can shoot several rockets in seconds and this increases the chances of hitting
an airborne target. The deal for supplying Strelets is estimated at $20 million
(maximum), while P. Feldengaur speaks of $10-20 million.61
In any case, such profits cannot cure the problems of a Russian MIC plant or
have an impact on Russian-Syrian relations. As a less advanced version of Igla,
it cannot promote Russian modern
weapons. Supplying Strelets has a different purpose. It should be seen in the
background for previous contacts between Israel and Russia about supplying
“anti-AA” rockets technologies for Russian. Using Igla rockets against
helicopters, Chechens caused hundreds of victims and made flying
helicopters into a nightmare for the entire Russian army. In Lebanon, from the
end of the 1980s, about 7,000 shoulder rockets were launched against Israeli air
targets, with only a few of them causing damage.62
It is unclear which techniques related to the issue of protecting helicopters
Israel could provide Moscow, but the Kremlin would definitely like to see much
more cooperation. By sending the Strelets to Syria, a target of Israeli bombing
following Hizbullah terror attacks, Moscow probably sent a hint to Prime
Minister Sharon’s office: if we lose our helicopters in Chechnya, you lose yours
in Syria or in Lebanon.
Even all the aforementioned economic and MIC related
factors combined hardly played an important role in the Kremlin’s decision to
reestablish military cooperation with Syria. Political factors and the exact
timing should be checked with careful attention.
“Chilling the formerly warm relations with Arab countries
to favor Israel (having in mind serious economic perspectives from this
alliance)”, wrote A. Khlopkov in 2001, in his paper on Russia-Syria cooperation
– “became one of the factors that made Russia the target of aggressive neo
Islamic movements.” Since then, this view has only been strengthened. Recently,
a Primakov doctrine supporter put forward the thesis that Russia, by discarding
historic allies, namely the Arab states, made herself a “legitimate” target for
Islamic terror. It was just inevitable that the Kremlin leaders revised their
policy toward Islam and Arab factors after the Beslan tragedy (by Beslan, I mean
the entire summer 2004 chain of terrorist acts in Moscow, Saint Petersburg and
the simultaneous explosion of two passenger airplanes). In their inability to
stave off such attacks and, even in investigating these cases, all the echelons
of the Russian regime demonstrated complete impotence. After Beslan officials
and governmental speakers were unable to connect Beslan’s murderers and their
instigators with any specific Muslim country or non-country body. The unfounded
attack on NATO and the US can be seen to reflect frustration that the global
fight against Islamic terror does not help Moscow that much.
Two Muslim countries are very seriously suspected as
sponsors of Islamic terror – Iran and Syria. After Beslan, a significant change
in the Kremlin’s attitude towards these two occurred. Presumably the Russian
elite realized that it is not wise to make accusations in the morning against
someone with whom you will sign an agreement that very night.
The new portrayal of Iran presented by Moscow at the end
of 2004 has been discussed above. Here, I would just stress a whole list of pro-Bashar
Assad publications written since January 2005, which discuss the military
disadvantages of his army by the Moscow Institute for Middle East Study and were
openly presented in the mainstream Russian media.63
The new agreement with Syria, backed up by the supplying
of modern weapons, will definitely
improve Moscow’s image in the Muslim world, even though Damascus has always
supported Moscow when voting in the UN and even refrained from condemning the
Russian policy in Chechnya in various Muslim solidarity conferences.64 The recent visit of President Putin to Egypt,
Israel and the PA just prove Russia’s intent to reinforce their relations with
Arab countries and with the Arab League and obscure ties that exist with the
But warmer relations with both Damascus and Teheran
provide a better chance to affect the Hizbullah and hamper its efforts to
copy its model to the Caucasus conflicts.
Russia has proclaimed such anti-terror measures as
fighting extremist Islamic scholars (Wahabists mainly educated in Saudi
Arabia) and cutting financial aid to Islamist groups coming from rich Arab
countries and Muslim charitable organizations. Here too, the benevolent voice of
Teheran and Damascus can make the irritation of the Muslim world more indulgent
A very short time after the signing of this agreement in
Moscow by Putin and Bashar Asad, Iranian First Vice-President Mohammad-Reza Aref
flew to Damascus in order to secure ally relations between the two capitals. The
Iranian media stressed his words that Iranians will share with the
Syrians their rich experience in escaping shirking international
sanctions.65 In that timing and context, such a
visit can hardly be understood other than as a recommendation for Damascus to
build their own advanced weapons systems from dual use components using the
know-how provided by Russia, albeit prohibited by international agreement. That
is exactly what the Iranians did during the last decade, with Moscow turning a
The latest developments in Lebanon, the assassination of
Rafik Khariri, and the resulting diminution of Syria’s role in the Middle East,
could definitely frustrate the Kremlin to some extent, but in fact Moscow’s
intentions in playing the Syrian game were to demonstrate its genuinely
pro-Muslim policy to the whole Arab and Muslim world. Damascus will probably not
be able to fulfill Russia’s expectations concerning terror, but it does not seem
that Russia will entirely turn its back on Syria.
Russia supplied Iran with the critical mass of knowledge
needed for development of nuclear weapons. The Kremlin was definitely aware of
the risk but preferred to ignore it. One of the reasons was the hope that
Teheran will help prevent an acceleration of the Islamization in Russia.
The Iranians developed sophisticated and successful ways
to buy needed know-how and equipment under false pretexts. Corruption among
top Russian management seems be one of the reasons for Iran’s success.
In the last two years, Moscow preferred to press Teheran
merely by “soft leverage” like adherence to ecological norms, dreading to
break the “good neighbors” framework, having several reasons to fear from an
There are increasing suspicions that Teheran already has
its hands on two powerful leverages: nuclear material flow and strong
influence on extremist Islamic groups.
After the Beslan tragedy, Russian political analysts
started to depict Iran in coordination with the political elite as a regional
superpower, for which a close relationship with Moscow is a must. Now they
continue by building a new image of rational and responsible Iranian rulers.
Having made the difficult decision to continue, if not accelerate, nuclear
cooperation with Iran, the Kremlin expects Iran to cool down their most
extreme radical Islamists and stop them from expanding terror into Russia and
from using a “dirty bomb” or other materials for mega terror.
The most recent warming of the relationship between
Moscow and Damascus can hardly be explained by Russian hopes to improve
benefits for their military industries.
Analyses show that prospective benefits are very modest,
while political gain in improving Russia’s image as a pro-Arab country can be
serious, and accordingly there are expectations from Muslim states and non
state entities to cool down Islamic terror in Russia. Syria as the single
Iranian ally in the region is a very logical place for Moscow to try and focus
The latest development in Lebanon can seriously weaken
Syria’s position, but it does not seem that Moscow will retreat from its
policy toward the Muslim world.
PIR Center (Tsentr Politicheskikh Issledovanii, Russia) was
organized at the beginning of the 1990s outside the academic system. It
cooperates actively with American centers and, perhaps more than any other
Russian research institute, carries out monitoring of tri-lateral
Russian-American-Iranian relations. It seems that the PIR Center’s
opinions were in concordance with important factions at a high level of
the Moscow political establishment. (On the 10 year jubilee, the Center
received personal and very warm congratulations from every “who’s who” in
Russian powerful circles (The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and
Atomic Energy). It is not easy to find another research center in Moscow
that has open doors to these three top officials.
V. Lata and A. Khlopkov, “Iran: Nuclear Missile
Riddle for Russia” (Iran: raketno-iadernaia zagadka dlia Rossii),
Iadernyi Kontrol’, No. 2 (68), 2003, pp. 39-56. Lieutenant-General
(res.) Vasilii Lata served as deputy head of the Main Staff of the
Strategic Missile Forces until 1999. Anton Khlopkov, Deputy Director of
the PIR Center, is the author of numerous works dealing with the
non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
A. Khlopkov, “The Iranian Nuclear Program in
American-Russian Relations” (Iranskaia iadernaia programma v
amerikano-rossiiskiikh otnosheniiakh), Nauchnye Zapiski PIR Tsentra,
No. 18, 2001, <http://iranatom.ru/news/aeoi/year04/september/ultimat.htm>.
Lata and Khlopkov, p. 40.
Ibid., p. 40.
Ibid., p. 40.
Ibid., p. 41.
Ibid., pp. 41-42. No other civilian nuclear energy
installation in the world has such a construction protecting it from a
direct hit by conventional bombs or missiles. For example, during the
1960s Krasnoiarsk-26 was built in the USSR. It was a complex for the
processing of uranium and the production of nuclear weapons in tunnels (approximately 350 kilometers of tunnels)
inside a huge rock on the banks of the Yenisei River. It was designed to
be able to withstand a direct hit by a nuclear bomb and to continue
production in the course of a thermonuclear war.
Iadernyi Kontrol’, No. 6, 1995.
Victor Mikhailov, “Cooperation with Iran in the
Nuclear Sphere”, Priroda (Journal Nature), No. 8,
Lata, Khlopkov, 2003, p. 42.
A. Khlopkov, 2001, p. 18.
Ibid., p. 19.
Ibid., p. 21.
Anatoly Alimov, “Iran’s
Military-Industrial Potential: Some Assessments”, Yadernyi Kontrol,
No. 3, 2001, pp. 41-52, PIR Center, Moscow.
Ibid., pp. 46-47.
Ibid., p. 43.
Ivan Safronchuk followed a similar approach. On the
one hand, he cited quite convincing data about the development of Iranian
industry with a military profile, including also nuclear technology,
while, on the other hand, he concluded, like Primakov, that, “Iran has not
come any closer to the creation of nuclear weapons than 20-25 other
states...” because “the eastern-style bureaucratic state structure
flourishing in Iran is absolutely unfit for really effective work,
although it might, to be sure, simulate activity in various directions.”
I. Safranchuk, “Nuclear and Missile Programs of Iran and Russia’s
Security: The Limits of Russian-Iranian Collaboration” (Iadernye i
raketnye programmy Irana i bezopasnost’ Rossii: ramki rossiisko-iranskogo
sotrudnichestva), Nauchnye Zapiski PIR Tsentra, No. 8, 1998, p.
The Russian specialists located at Bushehr and their
families live behind a wall, with guard towers, and their every step is
under supervision, allegedly in consideration of Muslim customs.
Kommersant, December 25, 2002.
A. Khlopkov, “Russian-Syrian Cooperation and
Perspective of Development of Nuclear Energy in Syria”, Security
Question, PIR Center, Vol. 5, No. 13 (203), July 2001, <http://www.pircenter.org/data/publications/vb13-2001.htm>.
Personal interview with Israel-based businessman,
Y.K., April 2004, Rehovot.
V. Orlov, “Don’t Hinder IAEA Investigations” (Ne
meshaite MAGATE), Questions of Security, No.7, 151, PIR Center,
Moscow, June 2004, <http://www.PIR
Daniil Kobiakov, “Territories Without Government
Control in the Transcaucasus and the WMD Proliferation Problem”, (Теrritorii
vne gosudarstvennogo kontrolia v Zakavkazii i problema rasprostranenia OMU),
October 2004, PIR Center, Moscow.
Gennadii Efstafiev, PIR Center International Experts
Council Meeting, October 6, 2004, <www.pircenter.org/cgibin/pirnews/getinfo.cgi?ID=1444>;
Alexey Krymin, Egor Engel’gardt, “System Downfall of
the Political-Military Structure of Islam Republic of Iran” (Sistemnaia
Uiazvimost’ politico-voennoi strtuktury Islamskoi Respubliki Iran),
Export Vooruzhenii, No. 1, 2001, p. 44.
Alexei Iablokov, Iadernyi Komtrol, No. 5,
1995, p. 20-21.
Alena Kornysheva, “They Still Do Not Give Us Access
to the SNF Market” (Poka nas ne puskaiut na rynok OIAT), Kommersant,
March 12, 2003.
Shestakov, “Iran Promises Go Ahead with Enriching of
Uranium” (Iran Obeschaet prodolzhat’ obagaschenie Urana), Izvestiia,
October 7, 2003.
Maria Golovina, Iranskye Yadernyi Proekt
Natalkivaetsa Na Serioznye Trudnosti, “The Iranian Nuclear Project Is In
Serious Trouble”, Based on Reuters, March 17, 2004; <www.iran.ru>,
March 19, 2004.
E. Shestakov, Iranian authorities promise to
continue work on uranium enrichment, (Iranskie vlasti obeschaiut
prodolzhit’ rabotu po obogacheniu urana) Izvestia, October 7, 2003.
N. Mamedova, Yu Fedorov,
V. Fedchenko, “Iranian Nuclear Program and
Russia-Iran Relations” (Iranskaia Iadernaia Programma I Russko-Iranskie
Otnoshenia), Proccedings, Vol.
2, February 2003, Institute for Applied International Research,
Moscow, February 2003.
Alexey Krymin, Egor Engel’gardt, pp. 38-44.
Maiak, Letters (Chto skryvaetsia za iranskim
zheleznym zanavesom?), <www.NuclearNo.ru>,
October 15, 2004.
Ibid., Also: Gleb Ivashentsov, “Russia-Iran: The
Perspective of Partnership”, Mekzdunarodnaia Zhizn’, October 22,
2004. The author appreciates the Iranian role in supporting Russia in the
Islamic arena and in the UN, against the US position on the Iraqi problem.
Andrei Piotkovskii, Interview, Radio Liberty, March
Alexei Malashenko, “Global Jihad” (Global’nyi Djihad),
October 24 2004; and: Alexei Malashenko, “The War Can Be Started in
Dagestan” (Voina Mozhet Perekinut’sia Na Dagestan), <http://www.kavkaz-forum.ru/society/2303.html>,
November 5, 2004.
V. Orlov, “Chechen’s Terrorists: In Preparing
Megaterror Acts”, Presentation, PIR Center Moscow, <http://www.pircenter.org/data/news/orlov250804-rus.pdf>;
also: Daniil Kobiakov, (Теrritorii vne
V. Orlov, Iadernyi Kontrol’, Editorial, No. 4
(2001): p. 3; also: A. Khlopkov’s report on his week of meetings in Iran
with scientists and managers of nuclear program, March 19, 2005, <http://www.pircenter.org/cgi-bin/pirnews/getinfo.cgi?ID=1623&L=0>.
V. Orlov, PONARS (The Program on New Approaches to
Russian Security, based in Washington DC), Policy Memo 358, PIR Center
Nov. 2004), <http://www.csis.org/ruseura/PONARS/policymemos/pm_0314.pdf>.
V. Orlov, Y. Vinnikov, “The Great Guessing Game:
Russia and the Iranian Nuclear Issue”, The Washington Quarterly,
Spring 2005, 53, <www.pircenter.org/cgi-bin/pirnews/getinfo.cgi?ID=1601&L=0>.
Here the authors again clarify that the Kremlin made its strategic choice
for political, economic and military cooperation with Iran.
In February, in a presentation in front of European
diplomats in Geneva (GCSP), Orlov’s colleague, E. Satanovskii, depicted
Iran as a rational player which would behave in a rational and responsible
manner even having nuclear weapons, <http://www.pircenter.org/cgibin/pirnews/getinfo.cgi?ID=1601&L=017>;
Anton Khlopkov, “Russian-Syrian Cooperation
and the Perspective of Development of Nuclear Energy in Syria”,
Security Question, PIR Center Vol. 5, No. 13 (203), July 2001. <http://www.pircenter.org/data/publications/vb13-2001.html>.
Ze`ev Wolfson, “The ‘Russian Factor’ in the Middle
East Military Balance, ACPR Policy Paper No. 133, 2001, pp. 14-15; also
published on the ACPR website, <http://www.acpr.org.il/ins/articles/Wolfson1.htm>,
Jane’s Intelligence Review, Vol. 9, No. 4,
April 1997. pp. 187-190; also: Report of Committee of State Defense
Issues, “Russian Duma”, published in Kommersant Daily,
April 12, 1997, also: The Jerusalem Post, January 7,
2000, p. B1); also K. Makienko, “Grey Arms Market in the
CIS”, PIR Center Study Papers, No. 6, 1997, p. 8.
Ibid., K .Makienko, p. 7.
Z. Wolfson, “The ‘Russian Factor’ in the Middle East
Military Balance”, ACPR Policy Paper No. 133, 2001, p. 16, also: <http://www.polit.ru/index.html>,
January 28, 2005, This Russian source provided comments on a Syrian
general, who says that the technical services provided by “non-Russian”
firms were very unqualified. Due to such bad service at some
point the Syrians started dismantling working tanks for the spare parts.
Major General (ret.) Paul Vallely, Presentation,
March 9, 2005, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
A. Khlopkov, “Russian-Syrian Cooperation and the
Perspective of Development of Nuclear Energy in Syria”, Security
Question, PIR Center, Vol. 5, No. 13 (203), July 2001. <http://www.pircenter.org/data/publications/vb13-2001.html>.
Personal interview with K. Makienko, Moscow, May
Dany Shoham, Ze`ev Wolfson, “The Russian Biological
Weapons Program: Vanished or Disappeared?”, Critical Review in
Microbiology, No. 30, pp. 241-261, 2004, <http://www.crcjournals.com/ejournals/issues/issue_archive.asp?section=1050б>;
also: Vadim Kozulin, “Russia-Syria: Military-Technology Bargain,
Haggle”, Iadernyi Kontrol, No. 3, 2000.
A. Khlopkov, “Russian-Syrian Cooperation and the
Perspective of Development of Nuclear Energy in Syria”.
Feldengauer, Novaya Gazeta, February 21, 2005.
Another argument on the navy base in Tartus cannot be regarded as a favor
from Damascus to Moscow in exchange for the debt being annulled. Damascus
was interested in a Russian presence in Tartus more than the Kremlin.
Syria deducted the rent from their debts. The Russian problem was just a
lack of budget to maintain the installations. As soon as Putin’s
government allocated some additional budget for the Russian navy (from oil
super benefits) a full renovation in Tartus was started.
P. Feldengauer; also: <http://www.sinopa.ee/sor/boraznoe/igla/igla.htm>.
The Institute was established as The Institute of Israel Study, and was
later known as The Institute for Israel and Middle East Study. On his
visit to Geneva in February 2005, E. Satanovsky was presented for the
first time as Director of The Institute for Middle East Study.
A. Khlopkov, “Russian-Syrian Cooperation and the
Perspective of Development of Nuclear Energy in Syria”.
The Teheran Times, February 17, 2005, <http://www.Teherantimes.com/archives.asp>.