What Happened when Putin and Netanyahu talked Iran?
Mark N. Katz
On Iran, what came out of the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel? What specifically did each leader want from the other?
The Putin-Netanyahu summit made little progress in bridging vast differences between Russian and Israeli positions over the Iranian nuclear program—or what do about it.
Israeli Prime Minister wanted Russian President Putin to support four specific demands on Iran:
- Expansion of sanctions against Tehran,
- A halt to all enrichment of uranium by Iran,
- Removal of all enriched uranium from Iran,
- Dismantling of Iran’s new underground nuclear facility near Qom.
In contrast, Putin did not advance any particular demands with regard to Iran.
On what did the men agree on Iran? And on what about Iran did they disagree?
In a joint press conference after meeting Putin, Netanyhau claimed that the two leaders agreed that a nuclear-armed Iran “presents a grave danger first of all to Israel, and to the region and the world as a whole.” Putin said “the talks were detailed and very useful.” But he was much more non-committal about their discussions of Iran’s nuclear program. He did not publicly support Netanyahu’s warning that Iran represents a grave danger or his four specific demands.
Is the meeting likely to change the dynamics of diplomacy by the world’s six major powers, especially given the stalemate during their talks with Iran on June 18-19?
The Moscow talks on Iran’s controversial nuclear issue were a disappointment. But for Putin to travel to Israel within a week—and to receive such a warm reception—must have been a disappointment to Tehran as well.
The Israelis will undoubtedly focus on how little support Putin offered for their position. But the Iranians are also sure to recognize that he did not support Tehran’s position either. This suggests that Tehran may have limited ability to play differences between the Russians on the one hand against the United States and Europe on the other in the new diplomatic effort.
How critical will this Russian-Israeli relationship be to what happens with Iran?
Putin’s visit to Israel underscores something that Tehran would prefer to ignore--and usually does. Under Putin, Russian-Israeli relations have grown quite close. And this is not likely to change as long as Putin is in power—which could be for six years, 12 years, or even longer. As a result, Tehran should not assume that Moscow will back Iran in any confrontation it may have with Israel.
Mark N. Katz is a professor of government and politics at George Mason University, and is the author of "Leaving without Losing: The War on Terror after Iraq and Afghanistan" (2012).
The Islamists Are Coming
The Islamists Are Coming, edited by Robin Wright, surveys the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring. Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties. They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.
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