Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 20, 2007

What's up with Bushehr?

This morning the NYT reported: Russia Gives Iran Ultimatum on Enrichment. I was curious and wondered what might have changed the Russian position against further pressure on Iran. The NYT piece gives no real reason:

Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, European, American and Iranian officials say.

Where is the Russian official confirming this?

Later today a rumour was distributed:

Russia is pulling out its experts from the Iranian nuclear reactor site they were helping build, U.S. and European officials said Tuesday.

Again, there is no Russian source.

The Russian news agencies say the stories are wrong: RIA Novosti writes on the first issue:

Russia's Security Council has denied reports in the U.S. media that Moscow issued an ultimatum to Iran over its uranium enrichment activities, the council's press service said Tuesday.
"The allegations made in The New York Times that Russia delivered an ultimatum during Russian-Iranian consultations March 12 in Moscow have no relation to reality," the service said.

and on the second one:

Russian contractor Atomstroyexport has denied foreign media reports that many Russian specialists have left the Bushehr nuclear power plant construction site in southern Iran.

Both reports confirm a known dispute between Iran and Russia about timely payment for the reactors progress. ITAR-TASS has a similar report while Interfax has nothing.

So what is up? Are the Russians stalling the Bushehr work? If so, is this a financial issue between Iran and Russia? What would Russia get, or avoid, for pressing on Iran?

I am a bit suspicious of "American and European sources in Vienna", i.e. U.S. and British delegates to the IAEA, cited in the NYT. These sources were often used in the run up to the war on Iraq and usually were simply propaganda distribution points. On the other side, the Russians could be shortsighted and really go for the fast buck, by pressing Iran and/or by demanding bribes from the U.S.

Any opinions?

Posted by b on March 20, 2007 at 05:40 PM | Permalink


Russia plays the long game. (Even if that is more than one Friedman unit).

The Surge is dominating US politics and media at the moment.

This is stalling for US defeat timetable.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 20, 2007 6:13:25 PM | 1

Badger had a post about the press in the gulf taking seriously a Russian report that April 6 would be go day for the attack on Iran. The report also says that Bushehr will not be attacked, but I'd get my people out of the way, anyway. You never know how these things will turn out.
Probably BS, but who knows?
If an attack is coming this year, this is one window of time for it. Summer's too hot and murky in the Gulf.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Mar 20, 2007 11:08:48 PM | 2

Suppose you know (or sincerely believe) that fifteen days hence, Iran and the Middle East will suddenly enjoy what the Chinese call Interesting Times. Hell, a whole month full of Disturbing Events falling like flaming turds from the sky. So many Bad Things that the country and the region will be a long time returning to the stability it has at the moment -- the stability that your big project depends on.

Would you ship in things that are radioactive, or carry on with large scale contracts, or leave your people where they might get hurt? No way -- you'd make up excuses. You'd call in sick. You just wouldn't do it, ya know? Any more than you'd risk your money on a fight coming up that you knew was already fixed.

Just as you would hang back if Iran had just been hit by an earthquake, or been struck by a wayward comet, or fallen prey to a Plague of Locusts, or suffered spectacular runs on its banks, or had a revolution . . .

. . . or been invaded by barbarians.

You just have the information fifteen days ahead of time, that's all.

If you know the mighty Huns are coming, if you have it on good authority that the shit and the fan are this close to collision, why, you tighten your seat belt, put your tray table in the upright position, and brace for it. No way it's business as usual.

The same thing Hertz or Citibank or Lloyd's of London would do if they had inside info that said the Middle East is headed for turbulence of Biblical proportions. That shit be bad for bidness, yo. Better chill till you see where it all ends up.

April 6th looks likely for The Sting. Israel and America announced yesterday the successful completion of joint computerized war games centered on anti-missile defenses. Not that they're expecting to need such practice or coordination. "Oh, we do this sort of thing alla time." they said. "Yeah, that's ticket! It's all just routine."

And by God so it is. These resource wars are getting to be like drive by shootings out in Compton -- they never show the faces any more. The story isn't about the people, it's about what kinda weapons were used, and how many rounds were fired, and who's winning the turf wars this week. It's routine.

Get ready for another TeeVee War. Israel starts it, and America comes in right behind them to save Israel and the Saudis from Shiite aggression.

The fix is in, sure. But this one's going to go way past fifteen rounds.

Posted by: Antifa | Mar 21, 2007 8:22:30 AM | 3

Russia Nixes 'Excessive' Iran Sanctions

Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday that it will not support ``excessive'' sanctions against its economic partner Iran, as the U.N. Security Council drew closer to a vote on a new, harsher set of measures intended to push Tehran to freeze its nuclear program.
On Wednesday, Lavrov also denied allegations that Moscow has told Iran it would not deliver nuclear fuel for the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant unless Tehran complies with the U.N. demands.

``There is no link whatsoever between the U.N. resolution ... and the implementation of the Bushehr project,'' Lavrov told lawmakers in the lower parliament house.

European and U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks said Tuesday that Moscow had bluntly told Tehran it would not ship fuel for Bushehr until Tehran freezes its uranium enrichment program, as demanded by the U.N. Security Council.

Lavrov dismissed the claims as an ``unscrupulous trick.''

``It's not the first time that we are seeing such an unscrupulous approach aimed at driving a wedge between us and Iran,'' he said.

Posted by: b | Mar 21, 2007 9:42:53 AM | 4

antifa :

A "president" who undefines congressional subpoena powers is on a bender. He's unglued.

He's gonna do it. He knows that Gonzales is soon going to be the least of not just his but of everyone's worries.

He we go in slow motion. Is anyone going to filmed, in shocked and sickly recognition of just how far wrong things have gotten to be, racing the madman to the bomb on the floor in the middle of the room, the one which will soon go off ending the threat of the next world war, or beginning it?

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Mar 21, 2007 10:15:11 AM | 5

Good Asia Times article on Iran sanctions (the South Africans are kicking up their heels), plus the author points out that the NYT is once again making shit up in news articles. Someday, maybe, we'll know all about the Cheney/NYT pipeline and how it worked.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Mar 21, 2007 1:17:08 PM | 6

plus the author points out that the NYT is once again making shit up in news articles - exactly the shit I posted - today they even added an editorial to it totally ignoring the Russian and Iranian denials and arguing that the Russians just want to be payed off.

The Russians know that the US has a strategy of encircling them (see where all the new bases popped up in recent years). I don't think they will agree on Iran being another place from where they can be pressed.

Posted by: b | Mar 21, 2007 4:58:18 PM | 7

What's up with ?

Antifa may have a point

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 21, 2007 5:58:17 PM | 8

Another recent example of mainstream media... artistry... is the case of Ali Asgari.

Very briefly, Asgari is a retired Iranian deputy defense minister who disappeared during a trip to Turkey. Western media covered the news in the customary manner: Sources say. "Sources say he defected. Sources say he was a very important man who had helped establish Hezbollah in Lebanon. Sources say he had long been a Western mole. Sources say a most clever plan was hatched to allow him to escape with his entire family."

Except, his wife and children went to the Turkish embassy in Teheran, and held a press conference. Explaining that the whole family is in Iran, they haven't escaped or anything. And their father/husband is abducted. And he is not the old man that the press stories make him to be (which means he is too young to be Papa Hezbollah).

The press conference was over a week ago. So, did the Western press revisit the story? No, not anywhere that I could see.

You can read about it in Targetting Tehran: the case of the missing Iranian General. The article is a week old, but there haven't been any recent developments.

In effect, it is quite likely that Mr. Asgari was already under torture somewhere, and the MSM yodelling chorus served to mask the screams of pain.

Posted by: Alamet | Mar 21, 2007 8:55:36 PM | 9

Our Mad Mad Mad Mad Vice President Speaks

It is all about Iran. The U.S. military, from the tone and content of Cheney's speech, is now ready, and the window is open. The administration may actually be a bit behind in building its public case – at least one as plausible as the false case made by this same administration less than five years ago regarding Iraq. Part of this case-making process entails boxing the Congress, and preventing that body from asserting its collective intellect, refreshing its own collective familiarity with truth, justice, reality and even the Constitution. Iran is back on the table, and the House warning language on Iran stricken.


And soon, it is likely they'll have their desired attacks on Iran. We may soon hear of an accident, an incursion, or a purported attack on our forces. That provocation will force the President to bomb until our bombs run out, and will give the Democrats one more opportunity to prove their abject fealty to war. From what we are hearing of this year's AIPAC conference, it will be up to a few honest and courageous souls in the Senate, or a revolt of the generals, to stop America's next war.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Mar 21, 2007 9:03:54 PM | 10

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Posted by: qifdsa | Mar 21, 2007 10:20:11 PM | 11

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Posted by: Tantalus | Mar 22, 2007 12:03:59 AM | 12

Sorry tantalus - pure spam - but this one is funny so I'll leave it there

@CP - is back again

Posted by: b | Mar 22, 2007 2:19:23 PM | 13


link appears to be broken...

Posted by: crone | Mar 22, 2007 10:56:53 PM | 14

b, kudos for badger linking back to this post.

(This astute blogger smelled a rat in the NYT piece immediately, suspecting the "sources" were in the US and British delegations to the IAEA, which had been used in similar ways as "propaganda distribution points" in the runup to the 2003 invasion).

Posted by: annie | Mar 23, 2007 3:37:12 AM | 15

@crone - link works for me - I assume a DNS (name serving) problem which clears up when your providers DNS-server catches up with changes the Russians made. So please try again later.

Posted by: b | Mar 23, 2007 4:19:21 AM | 16

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