Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

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Archive for the ‘PINR’ Category

Bad Timing: Iran Arrests Two Chinese Nuclear Spys During SCO Talks

Posted by K.E. White on August 16, 2007

Summary: Iran sends an arrestingly loud message to China over its nuclear program. And what perfect timing: the nations’ two leaders are in the middle of SCO summit talks. Coincidence? Probably not. Read for more on this spy game gone wrong, and a possibly emerging counterweight to NATO.

Could it be China and America see eye-to-eye on Iran?

Probably not. But one thing’s clear: China and America share a profound—dare say arresting—curiosity over Iran’s developing nuclear program.

From the International Herald Tribune:

Iran has detained two Chinese nationals on charges of spying on its military and nuclear facilities, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

Though such accusations against Westerners are common in Iran, the announcement is the first such charge against China, with which Iran usually enjoys good relations.

“The Chinese nationals were detained while taking photo and recording video tape of a military complex in Arak city,” judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters. “They entered Iran through Kish Island as tourists.”

How this story was buried below reports of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard becoming a “specially designated global terrorist” by the White House, one can only guess.

The Guardian teases out this additional tidbit of diplomatic gossip:

It is believed to be the first time any Chinese have been charged with espionage in the country. Oil-rich Iran has recently enjoyed good relations with China, which has resisted US-led attempts to impose harsher sanctions on Tehran for its nuclear programme.

But what both reports miss is the ongoing SCO summit that Iran and China are both attending. For that part of the story, let’s take a look at the current front page of the China Daily (which as of 10 pm EST does not mention the detention/espionage issue):

President Hu Jintao discussed the Iranian nuclear issue and bilateral ties with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Wednesday before the start of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit Thursday.Chinese President Hu Jintao Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Bishkek August 15, 2007

Hu said China is keen on resolving the nuclear issue through peaceful negotiations.

He said China understands Iran’s concerns but hopes the country shows flexibility for the peaceful settlement of the issue.

Ahmadinejad said that Iran will not go beyond international laws and regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in using nuclear energy.

Talk about bad timing.

What’s the SCO you ask? It’s a six-member energy policy forum consisting of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. But just read this tid-bit from a very useful PINR article by Dr. Marcel de Haas:

Considering these recent activities in different dimensions of security, is the S.C.O. developing into a “N.A.T.O. of the east” as it was regularly described after the anti-Western flavor of the 2005 Astana Summit? The S.C.O. still lacks a considerable number of essential elements which N.A.T.O., as a mature security organization, has: an integrated military structure with permanent headquarters, a rapid reaction force (N.A.T.O. Response Force), and continuous political deliberations. Moreover, S.C.O. member states and observers cooperate in many areas but also possess large differences, such as contradictory political and economic interests.

Nevertheless, in spite of these shortcomings, the last couple of years the S.C.O. has taken steps in intensified cooperation in a wide scope of security dimensions. This has occurred to such an extent that development toward a genuine security organization can no longer be excluded, although this still might take a considerable number of years. Although the West at present does not have anything to fear from the S.C.O., current developments might encourage the West to closely observe further activities of the grouping. In any case, the time has gone that Western security experts could depict the S.C.O. as simply one of many insignificant organizations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Iran is an observer nation to the evolving treaty. As such, the timing of the arrests—or merely their announcement—seems designed to send an embarrassingly loud and clear message to China: Iran’s nuclear program—and presumable secrets—are for her, and her alone.

Posted in China, Espionage, Hu Jintao, Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Marcel de Haas, Nuclear, PINR, SCO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization | Leave a Comment »

Worldview Clash on Russia: PINR & Commentary’s contentions

Posted by K.E. White on February 14, 2007

Putin grabbed headlines with his weekend speech in Berlin deriding unilateral American foreign policy, earning himself a polite, but stern rebuttal by Secretary Robert Gates.

So is this Cold War II, or World War V? (That latter reference considers the Cold War and the War on Terror as WWIII and WWIV respectively.)

To get some insight on Russian foreign policy and its ramifications, Proliferation Press brings you two worldview snippets.

But before we get there, The Boston Globe offers this response to Putin’s speech.

Two Viewpoints on Putin’s Russia



PINR’s Yevgeny Bendersky:



Moscow has been closely observing U.S. hegemonic practices since 1991, and has extracted several important lessons. The level of influence exercised by the United States throughout the world is costly and problematic, even if it yields important short-term results. Superpower status also has its limitations, as the U.S. invasion of Iraq demonstrated both the scope and ability of its armed forces and initial political pressure, as well as the need for extensive alliances in the medium and long run. The said invasion also showcased Russia’s ability to launch at least a partially successful challenge to the United States in tandem with France, Germany and China. Thus, Russian foreign policy can be expected to utilize extensive alliance-building, covering as many “bases” as possible without damaging its international credibility.

It would be difficult for Russia to rise once again as a global superpower in the absence of an ideology capable of polarizing the international community into two camps, thus aiding alliances and constructing independent economic and political spheres of influence. The world in the coming decades will still be dominated by the United States, but will undergo a transformation, as more countries will assume greater economic and political clout.

Therefore, Russia will seek to build “alliances of convenience” with these countries — whether they be China, India, the European Union, or even Indonesia or Brazil — in order to extend its influence around the world. This is premised on the fact that Russia’s foreign policy will follow Putin’s doctrines, for he is expected to step down in 2008. Much can take place after that year if his successors will not be able to sustain the country on a track launched by him when he took office in 2000.

Nonetheless, Russia can be expected to continue its policy of “superpower on the cheap” — that is, building credible alliances to share the costs of global influence, instead of paying these costs themselves, as the Soviet Union did in the Cold War. This approach can potentially allow it to increase its global influence and status without extensively damaging its domestic and international standing. Russia may even end up as an ally of the United States if the right opportunity presents itself. Its foreign policy could stay as one of well-calculated pragmatism, making it a very important international player in the coming decades.



Joshua Muravchik from Commentary’s blog contentions:


Move over, Borat. The hottest new voice in comedy is Vladimir Putin, otherwise known as the man who saved Russia from freedom and democracy. Putin convulsed his audience at the Munich Conference on Security with this sparkling one-liner: “Nobody feels secure any more, because nobody can take safety behind the stone wall of international law[,]”…

Putin is understandably peeved that the expansion of NATO has already diminished Russia’s security by depriving it of its historic freedom to invade its neighbors. Now, adding insult to injury, Washington is considering placing anti-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. This would mean that Russia could not even fire rockets at these countries just to send them a message about, say, the advantages of buying more Russian gas at higher prices.

Putin has been forced to parry further assaults on Russia’s security, waged by American NGO’s that have set up operations inside Russia to promote democracy and human rights. “Russia is constantly being taught democracy,” he protested.

Is this how we repay Putin for all that he has done to enhance our security? He has furnished Iran with nuclear technology in order, so he explained, to make sure that Iran does not “feel cornered.” He has gone to great lengths to protect us from the likes of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Anna Politkovskaya, and Alexander Litvinenko. Above all, is this the reward that Putin deserves for having worked so hard to keep the world safe from Chechnya?

Posted in contentions, Joshua Muravchik, PINR, Robert Gates, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Yevgeny Bendersky | 1 Comment »