As the news broke earlier this week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a new unity government, and the U.S. and European Union maintain their drive to solve the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy and financial sanctions, the world continues to struggle with effectively deterring Iran from developing the capacity to build a nuclear weapon.
Russia, which is viewed by many in the United States as an opponent of western attempts to curb the Iranian nuclear program, is actually one of the major factors in Iran’s inability to have developed a nuclear weapon, according to Yury Kanner, head of the Russian Jewish Congress.
“Putin is the guarantee of the fact that they will not get nuclear technologies from Russia because it is not expedient for Russia. Russia doesn’t need a nuclear Iran and the strategy is that Russia doesn’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” he told The Algemeiner during an interview in Manhattan recently.
Kanner pointed to the border dispute between Russian and Iran along the Caspian Sea, which holds billions of barrels of oil, the 20 million Muslims living in Russia, and the “complex relationships” between Russia and its neighboring countries that also have dealings with Iran – Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan – as the prism in which Russia views the Iranian nuclear issue through.
“Among the countries talking about the threat of an Iranium bomb is Russia. Russia and Iran have a disputed border in the Caspian Sea and Iran was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1943. There are 20 mllion Muslims in Russia and there are complex relationships between Russia and countries with direct relations with Iran,” he said.
Kanner dismissed the assumption that Russia has not joined western nations, including the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, in trying to deter Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology.
“Russia supported sanctions, refused to send sophisticated weapons to Iran, and we believe that Russia was very serious from keeping secrets [nuclear] from Iran.”
The sophisticated weaponry Kanner points to is the S-300 missile defense system, which would enhance Iran’s ability to defend against a military attack on their nuclear facilities. Russia decided not to sell the system to Iran after committing to previous agreements for delivery.
As the leader of a major Jewish organization, which has a budget of $10 million, more than triple the number Kanner had to work with when he took over as leader in 2009, he said that accusing Russia of being on the “wrong side” of dealing with Iran’s nuclear program is misguided.
“So as a Jewish figure speaking from the Jewish point, I wouldn’t accuse Russia of being on the wrong side of Iran. It wasn’t Putin who made the speech at Cairo University 4 years ago, it was Obama.”
Asked whether he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was the primary reason that Iran has not yet developed a nuclear weapon, Kanner said that Putin’s concern for a nuclear Iran was most definitely a factor.
“If Putin had not paid attention to efforts to bring Iran nuclear weapons then of course they would have one.”