21.03.2003
Russia in 2003 and Its Foreign Policy
№1 2003 January/March

The Foundation for Prospective Studies and Initiatives is a
non-government non-profit organization. Its President is Alexander
Dynkin, and Yegor Gaidar is Chairman of the Academic Council. The
Board of Trustees includes Nodari Simonia (Chairman), Alexander
Avdeyev, Alexei Arbatov, Yuri Baturin, Andrei Illarionov, and
Yevgeny Primakov.


Russia’s international position at the start of 2003 is stable
and generally favorable for accomplishing the immediate tasks of
national revival in the social, economic, political, and
psychological spheres.

Presently, there are no direct external threats to national
security in the traditional understanding. Russia is not entangled
in any interstate war-threatening conflicts; it maintains correct
and friendly relations with all countries, and enjoys the unique
opportunity to promote its interests through active political
means.

The traditional indirect threats to security also appear to be
insignificant. The geopolitical scene is free of forces that might
intentionally seek ways to weaken Russia. Some forces or states may
try and use this country’s domestic problems – like the
depopulation of the Far-Eastern regions, corruption, and the
susceptibility of certain regions to separatism – for their own
purposes, but the crises that could arise out of such attempts are
only hypothetical and unlikely to materialize in the short
term.

The risk of destabilization persists in some countries of the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that have specific or
inefficient political regimes, while the possibility of conflicts
between some of the former Soviet republics cannot be entirely
ruled out. Since almost any crisis in the CIS may inflict damage on
Russia’s interests, its involvement in the resolution of any
critical situations is most certain. For this reason, Russia may
expect the international community to better understand its actions
than was previously the case.

The years 2001 and 2002 heralded the existence of new threats,
together with a decrease in the more traditional ones, as
international terrorism moved into the forefront. On the one hand,
Russia’s unhesitating support of antiterrorist efforts meets the
nation’s vital interests, while on the other hand, it furnishes
Russia with an important foreign policy resource.

Chechnya has turned into a stronghold of international
terrorists on Russia’s territory, while the dangerous merger of
Chechen separatism with international terrorism has brought about a
situation where the zone of terrorist activity could potentially
strangle the entire country. This is no small challenge which
Russia must now confront.

In late 2002 and early 2003, however, the Chechen situation
acquired a new political tinge. The international community seems
more inclined now to view the Chechen conflict not as some “Russian
phenomenon,” but rather in the general context of fighting against
international terrorism. The disturbing impact of the Chechen
factor on Russia’s foreign policy is decreasing, which was manifest
in the Russian-U.S. relations and in the documents which Russia and
the European Union signed during the November 2002 summit.

This positive trend will prevail only if Russia makes serious
progress in ensuring the rule of law and human rights in Chechnya,
as well as solving the problems of a humanitarian nature. In the
absence of these attempts, Chechen developments may again receive
an unfavorable political taint. This could materialize if the
Russian government discards its orientation to a political
settlement and persists in its staunch refusals to maintain
contacts with Aslan Maskhadov; in terms of his status and line of
conduct, Maskhadov is generally perceived worldwide as a parallel
to Yasser Arafat. The search for an acceptable political approach
for settling the Chechen issue was knocked off track by the brutal
hostage crisis in Moscow in October, 2002. Nevertheless, the
government should resume its political efforts, especially in view
of the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

There has been a change in international attitudes toward
Russia, as the overstated expectations, humiliating benevolence or
pure malice have given way to more objective and balanced outlooks.
A renewed atmosphere of cautious optimism, as well as the readiness
to interpret international controversies in Russia’s favor, is
prevailing now over the habitual apprehensions.

The above stated facts prove that Russia’s international
position is stabilizing, and much of this shift in attitudes is
attributable to the Russian leadership that has accepted a strategy
of integration into the democratic family of nations. It made
practical proof of its choice right after the events of September
11th, when it unequivocally sided with the U.S.-led antiterrorist
coalition. That decision ushered in a new phase of Russian foreign
policy.

This revamped foreign policy has earned Russia international
credibility and has made up for Russia’s chivalrous attitudes
toward particularly questionable regimes, like North Korea. Other
activities which may clash with Russia’s pro-democratic drive are
its relapses of ultimatum-making, inappropriate rhetoric, as well
as confrontational or anti-American stances in official
commentaries on world affairs. These moves cannot but cause concern
as they by no means resemble accidental deviations from the desired
course of action, but rather expose the moods of a certain part of
society and the political elite. They indicate that Russia is not
completely ready to pursue a new foreign policy.

The fact calls for both political evaluation and practical
steps.

* Russia’s new foreign policy has been outlined but in brief.
Its specific contours are vague, and its concepts have not been
detailed. Therefore, they are open to any type of unscrupulous
interpretations.

* President Putin keeps the priority guidelines of Russian
foreign policy within the scope of his vision and regularly takes
appropriate strategic decisions for them. In other, lesser priority
areas, work is often done in the old, stereotyped style.

* Russian foreign policymakers would rather offer stereotyped
reactions to changes in the global situation than initiate or
prevent those changes themselves, while an inflexible fidelity to
the fixed patterns of international relations management will
typically prevail over the desire to reform them.

One may occasionally get an impression that the discrepancies
between Russia’s foreign and domestic policies are getting wider.
It appears that the authorities could draw these discrepancies to a
minimum – a goal that seems quite achievable given President
Putin’s impressive public support, as well as the majority seats
that the pro-presidential forces enjoy in both houses of
parliament. Nevertheless, the absence of real initiatives in this
area brings up three knotty problems.

First, the use of old propagandistic stereotypes and clichОs
blurs public understanding and popularity of the new foreign
policy.

Second, the reverse impact of the domestic policy may trigger
relapses of old foreign policymaking or cause grave political
setbacks.

Third, the currently advocated methods for national development
attract individuals to the presidential camp who are not
necessarily inclined to support President Putin’s foreign policy
initiatives.

To sum up the situation, neither the new foreign policy
developed by the Putin administration, nor the resultant stability
of Russia’s international position can be deemed irreversible at
this moment. Therefore, the main political objective for 2003, as
well as the next four to five years, is to make these encouraging
tendencies stable and self-perpetuating. This task is all the more
relevant in light of the forthcoming elections and concomitant
populist campaigning.

International Terrorism

International terrorism is a grave challenge to global
civilization, and fighting against it requires energetic action,
including the use of force. But one must not forget that the
temptation for forceful solutions is fraught with two dangers.

* A simplified and broad interpretation of transnational
terrorism as an omnipresent evil is anything but rational, as it
completely obscures the understanding of who or what the enemy is.
No doubt, any kind of terrorism is a manifestation of evil, but not
all manifestations of evil are tantamount to terrorism.

* Fighting terrorism must not remain confined to an endless
chain of police and military operations. When the most conspicuous
hotbeds of terrorist activity are eliminated, preventive actions,
such as political, economic and intelligence methods, as well as
public antiterrorist campaigns, will move to the foreground.

In this context it is necessary to develop a conceptual basis
concerning international terrorism, which would consider criteria
for identifying terrorists and their accomplices, techniques to
avert their activities, and bonuses for those who voluntarily
abandon their terrorist activities.

Russia has accumulated rich experience in fighting against
terrorism over the past eight years, and that experience is both
reassuring, and at the same time, disappointing. Russia’s high
international status, its extensive historical legacy and mental
character of a leading nation, and the expertise it has gained
while dealing with terror places the nation in a prominent position
in the international antiterrorist campaign. This line of conduct
requires big spending, however, and it is important that the
antiterrorist agenda not contravene President Putin’s thesis of an
“economical” foreign policy, which he put forward when he took
office.

Management Of International Relations

The changes on the world’s political map over the past ten years
are tantamount to a tectonic shift that was not accompanied,
however, by a reform of international relations management. The
system remains costly, vulnerable to criticism, and moderately
efficient in routine issues, while sluggish in critical situations.
Paradoxically, international ties have been reviving since the end
of the Cold War, irrespective of whether or not the system helped
the process or opposed it. The new development is a growing
regulatory role of regional associations, like the EU or the ASEAN,
informal groups like the G8, or simply top-level informal meetings
in the “no-ties” format. The process has coincided with the
decreasing role of the UN.

The UN still remains the key institution of that system, but it
increasingly reminds one of a split parliament with limited powers.
A situation where no particular party has a majority, a parliament
where the chances for effective – not just politically correct –
decision-making are rare, and the chances that those decisions will
be implemented are nonexistent. The UN’s major problem is the
absence of real levers by which to influence international
relations, or the absence of the will to exert influence.

The second problem lies in the inefficiency of multilateral
regimes of arms control. The fact that any pledges taken under
nonproliferation documents are purely voluntary, the transparency
of real actions is insignificant, and the use of sanctions is often
problematic immediately puts a brake on the attempts to make that
segment of international life stable and predictable.

A number of international structures, including NATO and the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), are
evidently going through a crisis of self-identification. The OSCE
seems to have exhausted its historic mission at the previous stage
of European history, yet it can still perform some regulatory
functions better than other international institutions. The OSCE
operations cover a large number of old countries and some of the
new independent states. It engages in designing legal norms,
forming the institutions of civic society, ensuring human rights
and monitoring their observance in the countries that have chosen a
democratic path of development. Nor has the OSCE exhausted its
potential of preventive diplomacy, settlement of conflicts and
post-conflict rehabilitation.

Formal logic, together with the remnants of Soviet ideas about
NATO, makes many Russians feel psychologically apprehensive about
NATO’s expansion, which, however, does not infringe on Russia’s
interests in reality. The alliance has expanded in close proximity
to Russia’s state borders and has exhausted its potentiality for
further expansion. But it is more important that Russia’s current
strategy regards NATO as a partner, not as a foe, and the two sides
have enough potential for partnership. Nevertheless, there is every
evidence that talk about allied relationship between Russia and
NATO would be premature, and discussions of this country’s possible
accession to NATO are highly speculative at the moment.

The prospects for Russia-NATO cooperation really exist, although
analysts find the low-profile issues dominating the agenda of
Russia-NATO Council meetings disappointing. Both sides should
obviously seek to replace the topics like rescue operations by a
discussion of long-term guidelines involving those questions
concerning air defense systems, weapons production, compatibility
of control, communications and intelligence systems, etc.

Russia could benefit from such a development by acquiring
certain levers of influence over NATO’s current policies and their
evolution, the direction of which has remained unclear. NATO may
eventually evolve into a largely political organization with
policing functions in Europe, or a global structure with operations
targeted at fighting international terrorism. Alternatively, it
could come up with a whole new set of other uses for its military
capabilities. Whatever the situation, NATO will most likely be
playing a less definite, secondary role than the one it is playing
now.

On the whole, the system of international relations management
has displayed a tendency toward a drift of functions from the
formally global institutions to the less official organizations
operating on a regional level and focusing on specific tasks. The
process displays three main features:

– it does not create an immediate and insurmountable threat to
Russia’s interests;

– it opens new opportunities for Russia to consolidate its
international positions by active political means;

– Russia may run the risk of losing the institutional positions
it inherited from the former USSR.

The latter situation is disturbing enough and requires
pre-emptive actions. Calls for keeping the old system of
international relations management intact will unlikely be of much
assistance, as the transformation process has already begun.
Becoming isolated from the process would also be unreasonable,
since we must become involved and place it on the desirable track.
Activity in this sense may have the following guidelines.

* First, stepping up the efforts to reform the UN and the
Security Council. Speculating about which new countries may become
its permanent members is irrelevant here; the real challenge is to
foresee which powers the current five permanent members will
reserve for themselves. It is obvious that their right to veto will
be an increasingly irritating factor for other countries, and will
reduce the chances of attaining agreement on critical issues. But
it is also true that Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S.
will hardly ever agree to drop that right. A possible solution to
the problem may be found if the UN endorses new regulations for
vetoing. They may stipulate, for example, that each permanent
member shall not possess the power to veto Security Council
resolutions more than twice a year. In reality, that would mean a
restriction on the use of that right by each member to once a year,
or perhaps even to a lesser degree. It would also give a
psychological and political push to their eagerness to reach
compromises which would not irritate other UN members. At the same
time, this kind of a solution might help the Security Council to
get a bigger scope of its powers.

* A revision of functions and composition of UN forces that will
draw them closer to the “four policemen” formula, which was
recommended by President Roosevelt back in 1942. It boiled down to
a proposal for the leading members of a new global organization
(now permanent members of the UN Security Council) to take
responsibility for the maintenance of, and coercion toward, peace
through the coordinated use of their military force.

* The readjustment of the existing international organizations,
together with the creation of new dedicated ones, to prevent the
spread of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism,
drug trafficking, and other global threats. That organization may
have a range of drastic powers in terms of control, the adoption of
binding decisions, and the right to draft resolutions for the UN
Security Council.

New Agenda For Russia-u.s. Relations

Russian foreign policy made significant progress in 2002 in its
relations with the U.S., a line of international activity which is
traditionally believed to be a decisive one. This country managed
to lay the foundation for a markedly new relationship with the U.S.
and to save maximum effort and resources while doing so. This new
relationship is based on a shared motivation, as opposed to
searching for an instantaneous solution of those bilateral problems
which have piled up for decades. The common motives of both nations
push the old problems to the background, or transform the factors
for confrontation into factors for cooperation.

Russia and the U.S. have empirically reached an understanding
that international terrorism as a non-systemic form of violence
poses deadly threats for civilization, and this realization was a
natural premise for pooling efforts to neutralize terrorists and
for forming a coalition. There are no insurmountable barriers
between Russia and the U.S. today for forming a coalition aimed at
a future victory over international terrorism. It may also
predetermine the progress of relations between them.

For Russia, the interest in that coalition is much bigger than
for the U.S., and the reason is not because Russia is weaker. The
format of an antiterrorist coalition provides this country with the
opportunity for speeding up its integration into the community of
democratic and highly developed nations. Russia can now proceed
with this ambition as a great power. Any alternative road toward
that goal would be much longer and would require extra effort and,
possibly, humiliation. After all, it is not clear if Russia would
be able to follow an alternative path to the end. For the U.S., a
coalition with Moscow means getting a reliable partner that has
common borders with unstable countries. It is not a matter of vital
interest, however, as the U.S. will remain the only superpower and
leader in terms of economic and military might in the foreseeable
future. It will remain in this position regardless of its
partnerships with Russia, even though other centers of world power
may emerge.

All of this means that Russia stands to benefit from maximum use
of its opportunities for cooperation with the U.S. During recent
strategic talks with the U.S., President Putin managed to avoid
bargaining with the Americans on those issues which are most
vulnerable for his country. On the psychological plane, the
recognition of Russia’s status as a genuine market economy played
an important role. The Kremlin also scored a tactical achievement
as Washington toned down its criticism of the operation in
Chechnya.

At the same time, Russia has failed to drop its traditional
agenda in its relations with the U.S. The bickering with
Washington, albeit of a more moderate tone, continued to occur
almost on all the items on this agenda. The government did not use
the favorable environment for a breakthrough with new initiatives.
It appears, though, that progress is possible without agreeing with
Washington on absolutely everything – one simply has to drop its
stance of excessive obstructionism.

Formulating a new agenda for Russia-U.S. relations is a priority
for Russia’s foreign policy in 2003. From the viewpoint of
strategic prospects, it is a vital task and it can be accomplished
in several ways.

* Joint reassessment of international terrorism, which demands
the development of a conceptual basis and criteria for identifying
terrorists and their accomplices. The goal is to develop
international legislation on this issue and to initiate the
necessary resolutions from the UN Security Council.

* Taking new joint initiatives against the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The current sanctions to control
such proliferation have proven inefficient since the problems they
are supposed to control are only becoming more aggravated. Since
this issue ranks quite high on the list of priorities for the U.S.,
and is a critical factor for Russia’s own national security as
well, it may turn into a key consolidating element of Russo-U.S.
relations.

* The maintenance and/or possible expansion of the debate on
traditional defense and weapons control issues. Both countries may
damage their new relationship if they consider themselves free of
any restrictions concerning the build-up of weapons and other
defense matters.

* Joint efforts to gradually renounce the system of reciprocal
nuclear deterrence and to transform it into a new model of
relations. Russia could follow the example set by the U.S., Britain
and France and allow its program of strategic forces development to
be more transparent. Another important step could be made at the
highest political level, if the sides agreed to cast away the idea
of reciprocal strikes and to cooperate in the development and
deployment of non-strategic and strategic anti-ballistic missile
(ABM) systems.

* A review of the list of opportunities to resolve various
global disputes. This may be accomplished through joint Russia-U.S.
actions to settle disputes over Iraq and North Korea, the Middle
East conflict and tensions in other hotspots of the world.

* Precisely targeted efforts to subdue the anti-American
propaganda in Russia, still fueled intentionally or unconsciously
by particular officials and politicians. This attitude is also
spread through old stereotypes still inherent in the public
opinion. As the parliamentary election, due at the end of 2003,
moves closer, the anti-American populist rhetoric may grow more
intense. In the meantime, the government could play a beneficial
role in dispelling the widespread belief that the U.S. is to blame
for all of the misfortunes that have befallen Russia. This is a
feasible task, since Russian officials are much more disciplined
than people generally believe them to be, and the mass media,
although having a free choice of journalistic techniques, do
produce subtle reactions to the altered position of the
government.

Finally, it is essential that Russia not juxtapose the progress
of its ties with the U.S. and its relations with Europe, even
though some illusionary or real motives may prompt such
juxtaposition. The strategic goal is to maintain a balance between
the U.S. and European lines of foreign policy now and to avoid a
highly inopportune preference of either partner.

Guidelines For European Foreign Policy

Russia’s relations with European countries developed at a fair
pace in 2002, but were less dynamic than the relations with the
U.S. The progress which Russia made in its relationship with Europe
was the result of Russia’s preference to associate itself with
other democratic countries. Also, Russia gave up its previous
assertion that NATO’s eastward enlargement was an absolute menace,
and instead established a partnership with the alliance. In these
areas, President Putin demonstrated highly efficient diplomatic
skills in maintaining traditional economic and cultural ties with
the Europeans. On the other hand, the thrust of Russo-American ties
was greater, while its problems in relations with Europe were more
pronounced. Very often, these misunderstandings arose from
differences of mentality, contradictory visions of the world and
stereotypes of behavior rather than from any real controversy of
interests.

Russia’s guidelines for European foreign policy have a larger
pragmatic element now. Moscow’s rapprochement with Europe follows
two directions – a strengthening of its partnership with the
European Union and stepping up of bilateral relations with EU
members. Last year’s experience demonstrated that Russia was able
to find effective counterbalancing mechanisms at the bilateral
level if problems developed in its relations with the EU.

Russia-EU relations are dominated by economic concerns, although
the sides have a big potential in the field of security as well.
The latter conclusion is supported by geographical proximity of
Russia and the European Union, and the fact that hotbeds of real or
hypothetical tensions in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central
Asia are much closer to them than to the U.S. Russia and the EU
both have a large Moslem population, and compared with the U.S. the
two sides are much more vulnerable to the radical Islamic factor.
They also have a broader experience in dealing with it.

The stepping up of Russia-EU contacts in the field of security
fits well with the interests of Russia, given its status of a large
Eurasian power, the uncertain future prospects of NATO, and the
U.S. propensity for unilateral actions. For Russia, this kind of
partnership implies general political benefits, greater potential
to manage crises and conflicts, and the realistic opportunity to
advance its competitive technologies to the segments of the
European markets that have remained closed for Russian products,
military airlift technologies, for example.

Rapprochement with Europe is significant for Russia’s own
self-identification, and for removing the lingering feelings of
inferiority and the phantom pains of a collapsed superpower.

Russia’s relationship with the EU concerning practical issues
was tainted in 2002 by the problem of the Kaliningrad enclave.
Moscow failed to attain the solutions it was seeking at the
November summit meeting in Brussels, but the EU acknowledged the
problem and partially withdrew from its rigorous stance which
allowed no exceptions to the Schengen visa convention. The
precedent had equal import for Russia, the countries of
Central/Eastern Europe and the Baltic states considering accession
to the EU. The issue of traveling to Kaliningrad via Lithuania now
comes down to technical arrangements, and it would stand to reason
that this issue will lose its political coloring in 2003. The
enclave has far more serious problems pertaining to its social and
economic stability. These issues are of a purely domestic variety,
but Russia may nevertheless find workable solutions to them through
its cooperation with the EU.

Despite the advancement of relations between Russia and the EU,
there remain some areas of mutual discontent. Russia does not match
the clear political correctness, bureaucratic pedantry,
contentedness and overall liberalism of European life. It is also
important to recall that Russia’s process of natural integration
into Europe ceased abruptly in 1917 and did not resume until
slightly over a decade ago. This process occasionally retreats due
to acute problems which are often triggered by emotions, as opposed
to real objective circumstances.

Russia must seek ways to level out its relationship with Europe,
but this will require a certain political and psychological
modification. It will not be painful, as Russia does not have
threats to its security from Europe.

* To modify itself, Moscow will have to drop the habit of
dramatizing particular problems and to learn how to tackle them
from the position of rationality and common sense. It will have to
understand, for instance, that the vanishing of interstate borders
inside the Schengen zone will naturally involve the maintenance or
strengthening of control along the EU’s outer perimeter. Russia can
hardly hope for a change of the Schengen rules, or the suspension
of visa requirements for its citizens, until it brings under
control its own borders with the Commonwealth of Independent
States. The Russian government will also have to realize that the
rather humiliating procedures for obtaining European visas at
various embassies in Moscow are a far bigger humanitarian problem
than the tedious processing of documents required for transit
travel to the Kaliningrad Region. The situation can be changed
through the consideration of mutual interests, i.e. if Russia makes
its own visa issuance rules simpler.

* Russia will have to acknowledge the fact that unlike the U.S.
and Israel, the European nations are less concerned with fighting
international terrorism and are keener to point out the
humanitarian and legal aspects of that fighting. Let us stop
viewing this predilection as an irritant, rather let it provide us
with another necessary position in our policies.

* Reactions should be proportionate to the scale and nature of
particularly uncomfortable situations. For example, President
Putin’s decision to cancel his visit to Denmark in the aftermath of
a Copenhagen conference which brought together notorious Chechen
separatists was a justified and obvious one. However, other actions
in regard to that incident, like the calls to boycott imports from
Denmark, or an ephemeral anti-Danish hysteria in the Russian mass
media, were totally out of place and counterproductive.

* Russia will have to de-politicize its European policy agenda
and to move its economic cooperation with the United Europe
center-stage, as economic ties may eventually become the driving
force of its integration into Europe.

Challenges Of Year 2003

For quite obvious reasons, Russia will be unable to stay away
from the aggravating problems pertaining to Iraq, Iran, and North
Korea. It cannot ignore them: its international status, incipient
antiterrorist cooperation with the U.S., as well as its intensive
ties with all three of these countries mean that it presently has a
share of responsibility for the scenarios involving them. The
general context of these problems demands that Russian foreign
policymakers properly assess and ensure their country’s
interests.

Iran

The problems surrounding Iran have certain similarities with the
problems of Iraq, but its inherent logic is unique in many ways.
Both countries launched programs for developing missile weaponry in
the early 1980s. Both give financial support to, or have partial
control over, certain terrorist groups; both Iran and Iraq exercise
repressive policies within their nations, are merciless toward
their enemies and bitterly hostile toward the U.S.

This is where the similarities between the two countries end,
however. The Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein came into being through
a coup d’Оtat at the government level, while Iran toppled its
monarchy in a popular revolution, although under Islamic slogans,
more than two decades ago. Over this period of time, the Iraqi
regime has degraded irreparably, while Iran has seen a small
symptomatic evolution. It proves that the current form of Iranian
statehood has much more viability than the Saddam regime and is
more open for change, however minimal by Western standards. In
short, cooperation with Iran is possible, while the Iraqi regime
has long lost its ability for improvement. Nor is there any special
reason to punish Teheran at this time.

Inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have
not found any traces of nuclear weapons or the necessary elements
for their production in Iran. Nevertheless, the country has a
nuclear industry and one cannot rule out a situation where it may
develop nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future. Presently, Iran
is definitely eligible for protection under the principle of
“presumption of innocence” as far as the question of weapons of
mass destruction is concerned.

Any support of terrorist organizations makes generous
indulgences out of the question, yet it would be very difficult to
argue that Iran does not support terrorism more than other
countries do, for example Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian regime may bear potential threats to peace,
stability and civilization in general if the messianic message of
its religious leadership overpowers the sense of reason. The signs
that such a scenario may actually evolve have been blurred in
recent years, although they have not vanished altogether. Today, it
seems that the most important task is to guide Iran away from the
temptations of radical Islam, rather than to push it into the arms
of Islamic extremism.

Moscow may have to confront two problems due to its relationship
with Teheran in 2003. The first is to set proper priorities for its
cooperation with Iran in nuclear power engineering, something that
the U.S. is very much opposed to. Presently, however, the
continuation of this cooperation seems reasonable. In the first
place, it is legitimate and profitable venture for Russia, and can
serve as an effective example for opposing U.S. pressure – if one
does not see a problem building up prestige in such a manner. Of
more important concern, Russian-Iranian cooperation in nuclear
power engineering may prove efficacious in making Iran understand
that the international community has vested trust in that country
and is prepared to negotiate disputable issues. It does not treat
Iran as a second Iraq. This position must be voiced now, in 2003,
since it would be totally inadmissible that the Iranian leadership
get the impression that their country will be the next phase after
Iraq in some major military campaign.

The occasionally blatant U.S. desire to “punish” Teheran after
any campaign in Iraq (which may be the source of Russia’s second
problem concerning its relations with Iran) may never actually
materialize, and the American plans will remain a harmless piece of
paperwork. This will more likely be the case if Russia and the U.S.
can come to agreeable terms on the Iranian nuclear projects. But
Russia must act very cautiously and reasonably if the “punishment
of Iran” gets on the international agenda. A confrontation with the
U.S. would not be worthwhile, which does not mean Russia must
support the U.S. position on Iran, though. In that situation, the
coordination of efforts with the U.S. allies – above all, Britain,
France and Germany – will be of paramount importance.

North Korea

The international community’s treatment of North Korea has never
been free of misgivings about the size of its defense preparations.
And there are ample grounds to believe that in 2003 these
suspicions will grow. There are three reasons for it.

* While holding the first consultations with the U.S. during
George W. Bush’s presidency, North Korea disclosed that it
possessed nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction.
It thereby admitted that it had violated the framework agreement
with the U.S. signed in October 1994. The document involved
freezing Pyongyang’s nuclear program in exchange for a promise that
an international consortium would build a light water reactor in
North Korea, and that the country would receive annual compensatory
supplies of fuel oil.

* Shortly thereafter, North Korea declared its rehabilitation of
a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which had been shut down since
1994.

* A five-year moratorium on the development of missile
technologies that North Korea announced in 1998 expires in
2003.

All countries concerned, including Russia, stepped up efforts to
verify the veracity of the North Korean statement concerning the
possession of nuclear missiles immediately following Pyongyang’s
admission. High-ranking Russian officials believe that the country
does not have the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons.

When North Korea froze its nuclear program in 1994 it was
already standing on the threshold of creating a prototype of a
“nuclear fuse,” which means it had the necessary technologies,
components and fissionable materials. If one admits that no work
has been done since then, today North Korea must stand essentially
where it was in 1994 – that is, it does not have nuclear weapons
yet. However, it is quite probable that work on nuclear weapons did
continue after 1994, although not on a large scale. This means that
North Korea may now possess a few warheads ready for full-scale
testing but not for combat employment. The situation is
troublesome, but has not reached a critical stage at this time.

The problem, however, lies deeper than North Korea’s possible
possession of nuclear weapons. What really matters is the readiness
of the North Korean leadership to use these weapons for
blackmailing the partners in the 1994 framework agreement and other
parties concerned, including Russia. The game Pyongyang is playing
undermines the limited trust in North Korea that appeared in recent
years due to the personal efforts of the Russian government and
President Putin. Russian officials have said many a time after 2000
that North Korea is strictly observing international agreements and
is a reliable partner at negotiations. In these circumstances, the
side effect of North Korea’s revelations about its nuclear plans
only serves to discredit Russia.

The situation compels the international community to adopt a
trust-but-be-watchful stance and demand that North Korea open up
all the existing nuclear facilities for international inspections,
and furnish experts with convincing proof that it has fully stopped
developing nuclear weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction.
A refusal to comply with those demands must entail stringent
international sanctions.

Russia’s task is to make use of its strengthened ties with
Pyongyang, and to convince its leadership that the tactics of
military proliferation and blackmail should be dropped. Efforts
along these lines will definitely observe the letter and spirit of
the new Russian-North Korean treaty. For Moscow, it is both a
matter of safeguarding national interests, and a point of
honor.

It is also clear that Russia will only be left with the choice
to accept international sanctions against the North Korean regime
if Pyongyang turns down its mediating efforts.

The Foundation based this report on the forecast and
research done by the Institute of the World Economy and
International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The
foreign policy section of the report, the excerpts from which are
published herein, has been prepared by Vladimir Baranovsky (head of
project), Vladimir Dvorkin, Irina Zvyagelskaya, Irina Kobrinskaya,
Georgy Kunadze (compiler), Vassily Krivokhizha, Vassily Mikheyev,
Ivan Safranchuk, and Yuri Fyodorov.

For full text, please visit www.psifoundation.ru