debkafile’s sources report Moscow’s pressure tactic against Iran is linked to Putin’s energy strategy. First Russian fuel rods were already deliver

A US official in Vienna told AP Tuesday, Aug. 7, that the Russians had warned Iran fuel would be withheld from its nearly completed nuclear reactor unless Tehran comes clean on past atomic activities. A US official said the Russians are not meeting other commitments that would allow Iran to activate the Bushehr reactor in order to pressure Tehran into more compliance with UN Security demands.
debkafile‘s military sources report that the Bushehr reactor is not linked to Iran’s nuclear weapons program but is being used as a decoy; in any case, the project is seven years behind schedule.
debkafile reported last month that, shortly before the G-8 summit of industrialized nations opened in Germany, the Russian manufacturers Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant tankers loaded the first consignment of nuclear fuel for activating Bushehr on a special train. It was unloaded at the Iranian reactor a few days later.
Moscow and Tehran have been bickering for years over how to calculate the payment due from Iran but, most of all, Russia’s latest warning to withhold further fuel shipments to Bushehr is linked to its energy interests.
President Vladimir Putin, who manages this policy in person, is using the warning to pressure Iran to pull out of its recent agreements with Turkmenistan and Turkey on a new gas pipeline, which would cut into Moscow’s monopoly control over the gas routes from Central Asia to Europe.
Putin is also watching the debate in the Bush administration between advocates of harsher UN Security Council and other sanctions against Iran, a third round of which is due shortly, and those who urge military action to halt the Islamic Republic’s advance toward a nuclear weapons capability. Moscow calculates that its threat to twist Iran’s arm on its nuclear secretiveness by delaying completion of the Bushehr reactor until late 2008 will boost the camp in Washington favoring diplomacy and sanctions over military action.
Such delaying tactics will also help Iran by dragging out the unresolved military option up until the US presidential election at the end of next year and Bush’s departure from the White House.

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