By Dr. Chuck Missler
A Russian-made anti-tank missile hit a school bus in Israel last Thursday, demonstrating that Russian weapons have made their way into the hands of Hamas. Russia is also once again loading nuclear fuel into the reactor at Iran's Bushehr Power Plant on the Persian Gulf. Iran and Russia are cooperating on development of both nuclear power and oil and natural gas resources. Russia's top leaders met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the end of March as an attempt to strengthen Israel-Russian relations, yet Russia has long proved willing to cooperate with Israel's enemies.
Russian Missiles to Syria
Relations between Israel and Russia grew tense last week when a Kornet, a Russian-made anti-tank missile, hit an Israeli school bus. The Kornet is only manufactured inside Russia, which means that the missiles from Russia itself are reaching terrorist groups like Hamas. Russia has been openly willing to sell missiles to Syria, even though those weapons can and have been taken up by Hezbollah contrary to Syrian agreements. Israel believes the Kornet was smuggled from Hezbollah into the Gaza strip where Hamas made use of it.
Israel is calling the bombing of a children's school bus a war crime.
Russian Cooperation with Iran
Russia started reloading fuel rods at the Bushehr Power Plant on April 8, according to Russia's Atomstroyexport company. The rods were removed in February due to a breakdown in one of the reactor's cooling pumps. Now that the reactor has been cleaned up and inspected, 163 fuel rods are being reloaded as part of the energy cooperation between Iran and Russia.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved the agreement between Russia and Iran, in which Russia initially operates the plant and both supplies the plant with fuel and removes all the spent fuel so that it cannot be used to make a nuclear weapon. The agreement only has Russia running the plan and removing the spent fuel for a couple of years, however. Eventually, Iran will take control of the plant and the spent fuel.
Iran has repeatedly said that it will abide by the IAEA protocol on running the plant, including allowing inspectors so that the plant can be run safely.
IAEA Nuclear Installation Safety Director Philippe Jamet said, "They look at the training programs - how the operators are trained to cope with accidents on simulators, and so on. And, we also look at the qualifications of people to perform maintenance. And also, the preparation of the plant for possible emergencies."
Will the IAEA inspectors make sure that none of the spent fuel is squirrelled away to make a nuclear weapon of one kind or another?
Russian natural gas company Gazprom announced last week that it is working with Iran to find ways to cooperate more closely on energy. Gazprom chief Alexei Miller met with Iranian Deputy Vice President for Economic Affairs Ali Agha Mohammad in Moscow.
"The parties discussed the opportunities for Russia and Iran to develop cooperation in the oil and gas industry," the Russian company said in a statement. "Special attention was paid to the global energy market trends and the issues of strategic partnership within the Gas Exporting Countries Forum activities."
Russia and Iran have the first and second spots, respectively, in holding the world's largest natural gas reserves.
Russia and Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the end of March. Russia has shown an effort to heal ties with Israel and was one of the first countries to condemn the bus bombing in Jerusalem that injured 39 people and killed one British woman. However, Russia's plans to sell Syria a shipment of missiles and to continue cooperation with Iran caused tension. Netanyahu urged Russia to be wise regarding Iran and reminded Russia of the terrorist threat that it too faced.
"If the Tehran regime manages to create nuclear weapons, it will never fall," he told Russian reporters. "If this happens, no one - neither you (Russia) nor anyone else - will be safe from threats, blackmail and attacks," Netanyahu added.
The bombing of a Minsk subway station in the former Soviet republic of Belarus on April 11 is a strong reminder to Russia of the constant terrorist threat in the region. While the motive of the Belarus bombing is still unknown, Moscow has experienced bombings in its subway system as recently as last year. Russia is fully aware of what it is to be threatened by terrorism.
Despite its friendly face toward Israel, however, Russia's willingness to do business with the countries most hostile to Israel demonstrates that Russia has no real loyalties to anybody – except to Russia.
Minsk subway terrorist attack solved - Lukashenko - RIA Novosti
Bushehr Nuclear Plant Being Reloaded With Fuel: Russian Contractor - Tehran Times
Russia, Iran explore energy ties - UPI
Hamas' Powerful New Weapon Alters Strategic Calculations Along the Gaza Strip - Fox News
Netanyahu plays up Iran threat in Russia - AFP