Russia Moving Fast Before Arms Control With U.S.
by Jane Jamison on April 8, 2010 at 10:12 AM
The New York Times says that President Obama’s nuclear arms reduction agreement, to be signed within a few days, will significantly alter U.S. defense policy to “substantially narrow the conditions under which nuclear weapons could be used, even in self-defense.”
Is anyone in the Obama administration paying any attention to Vladimir Putin? The Russian prime minister has just returned from his first-ever trip to Venezuela, with bear hugs for dictator-”presidente” Hugo Chávez.
Russia and Venezuela signed no fewer than 31 agreements in twelve hours. Russia has already sold Chávez $4 billion in military armaments, and now has signed on for at least $5 billion more.
The relationship between Moscow and Caracas has strengthened in recent years, with Venezuela buying military equipments worth $4 billion from Russia, including Sukhoi jet fighters, helicopters, tanks and assault rifles, since 2005.
During his latest visit to Venezuela, Putin had personally delivered four Russian Mi-17 helicopters President Chavez, the last of a batch of 38 military helicopters the South American country purchased from Russia in 2006.
Besides weapons, Venezuela wants nuclear power (“just for domestic purposes,” of course). Sadly, due to NASA budget cuts under Obama, it appears that Venezuela may have astronauts before America does in the future. Russia needs oil, and Putin came back with a $20-billion contract to partner with Venezuela in the Orinoco belt. Vladimir and Hugo. It’s all good.
We are not going to build the atomic bomb but we will develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We have to prepare for the post-petroleum era,” Chavez said on Thursday.
While Putin was in Venezuela, China was taking delivery of weapons from Russia on Friday.
Russia has delivered 15 batteries of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to China, Interfax news agency reported, under a contract analysts said could be worth as much as $2.25 billion.
China is a major buyer of Russian weapons, and the two countries say they are trying to forge a strategic partnership, though senior Russian officials are privately concerned about an increasingly assertive China.
Russia has been conducting quite a business by selling the same S-300 “Favorit” (“the world’s most powerful and efficient air defense system”) to many countries hostile to the U.S. and Israel: Syria, India, Algeria, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia. Russia is also well underway with even more advanced versions, the S-400 and S-500 series, the latter of which can repel attacks in space. The systems began marketing on YouTube videos and news releases dated in late February of this year. A nagging concern is the fact that Russia signed a deal in 2005 to deliver anti-aircraft, anti-missile S-300s to Iran…with delivery originally set for 2009. It is not clear if they ever were delivered. Why don’t we know?
Obviously, this has presented a huge security concern to Israel.
The S-300 is considered to be one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world, and its capabilities allow it to intercept aircraft flying 30,000 meters up, from 150 kilometers away.
Netanyahu’s government began stepping up its pressure on Putin not to go forward with the arms deliveries to Iran last summer. While Russia was taking meetings with the Israelis, Putin also said that his country’s economic crisis makes the lucrative armaments business very attractive. A Russian ship, which may have been delivering S-300s to Iran last August, mysteriously “disappeared” between Finland and Algeria. It is believed that the ship was destroyed by the Israeli Mossad security service, which was acting on a tip. There is speculation that the arms deal was brokered with Iran by rogue Russian military “black marketeers” rather than with the Russian government.
Heritage Foundation’s Dr. Ariel Cohen warned last year that the shipments to Iran must be thwarted:
Although the sale of the S-300 to Iran is not prohibited, such a deal would be a game changer in the Middle East. Tehran could threaten U.S. and allied troops’ aerial assets in Afghanistan and Iraq if Iran were to deploy the system along its borders. Furthermore, it would boost the defense of Iran’s Bushehr reactor, which Russia has built. Finally, Tehran could also use S-300s to protect its Natanz uranium enrichment plant, Arak heavy water plant, and other components of its sprawling nuclear and missile complex.
A nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to the region as Iran uses its nuclear arsenal to foster its hegemony in the Persian Gulf and beyond and would likely trigger a regional nuclear arms race. Israel, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia would not sit idly while Tehran is building its nuclear arsenal.
In mid-February this year, after another eyeball-to-eyeball session with Putin in Moscow, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that there was an agreement to hold off on the S-300 deliveries to Iran…for now. The Russians, however say that the delay is due only to “technical difficulties.” It wasn’t made clear when those “difficulties” might be cleared up and the shipments might proceed.
It may not make a whit of difference. While Obama and Secretary of State Clinton dither over sanctions and partnering countries, Iran sneers at the lack of foreign policy fortitude and races to a finish line of its own making.
It appears that while Vladimir Putin is allowing himself “official deniability” of any deal to directly arm Iran, the technology has nonetheless somehow made its way to Tehran. Just a few days ago, Free Republic’s sources quoted Iranian military officials who say they have developed their own “indigenous” versions of the S-300.
Investor’s Business Daily now calls Secretary of State Clinton the “Bull in the China Shop Diplomat.” She seems overly preoccupied with micro-managing Israel’s apartment-building plans and picking fights with Canada over abortion health care policy, while ignoring such elephants in the room as Iran building nuclear weapons and Russia arming America’s enemies. The Wall Street Journal opines that “Obama Seems Unserious about a Nuclear Iran.” If the Obama administration has accepted the inevitability of nuclear weapons in the hands of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, why would it cringe at Iran also being militarily able to demolish the Israeli fighter jets which come to destroy the nukes?
Take it a step further, and what assurance does Israel have at all anymore that the United States of Barack Obama will defend her if the worst comes from Iran? Former Mayor of New York Ed Koch, a Democrat and a Jew who supported Barack Obama’s campaign, recently wrote an editorial in an Israeli newspaper, saying “The Trust is Gone.”
Humpty Dumpty has been broken and the absolute trust needed between allies is no longer there. How sad it is for the supporters of Israel who put their trust in President Obama.
Vladmir Putin has already proven once to Israel that he cannot be trusted. Kim Zigfeld wrote in American Thinker of Russia’s criss-cross hypocrisies of human rights violations, terrorism, and military aggression, while selling weapons of mass destruction to every enemy of this country.
In the meantime, Iran’s nuclear negotiator has just come back from a meeting on “energy” with China. China still refuses to join the U.S. in sanctions against Iran.
While Russians and Iranians are taking intercontinental flights cementing deals with our enemies, President Obama is rolling Easter eggs and playing baseball. Still feeling a headwind from passage of the health care bill, no doubt.
Obama is scheduled April 8 to sign a treaty with Russian president Medvedev to reduce nuclear weapons of the two countries “by 30 percent.”
Barack Obama presented his tepidly-received nuclear disarmament plan exactly one year ago today in Prague. It would appear, confirming our worst fears, that the only place in the “world with no nuclear weapons” will be the United States if we stay on the bobble-headed foreign policy course of Barack Obama.